Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) most often are used to relieve pain and inflammation in conditions such as headaches, migraines, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and scleroderma.
There are more than two dozen NSAIDs available, including ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Genpril, Midol IB, Proprinal), naproxen (Aleve, Flanax Pain Reliever, Midol Extended Release, Naprosyn), diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren, Zipsor, Zorvolex), mefenamic acid (Ponstel), and indomethacin (Indocin, Tivorbex)
How NSAIDs work
NSAIDs work by blocking enzymes known as cyclooxygenases (COXs) that produce prostaglandins, a group of chemicals responsible for pain and inflammation in the body. NSAIDs also can relieve fever by stopping the production of prostaglandin E2 directly.
There are two major forms of COXs: COX-1 and COX-2. Generally, most NSAIDs block both types of COXs. However, inhibiting COX-1 is a major reason behind why NSAIDs may lead to stomach upset and can cause ulcers, especially if taken on an empty stomach or for long periods of time. Only one type of NSAID that selectively blocks COX-2, called celecoxib and marketed under the brand name Celebrax, is available in the U.S. market. While celecoxib is less likely to cause stomach injury, it does carry a risk of heart problems and strokes.
In scleroderma, NSAIDs work by tackling inflammation in the joints, muscles, and the linings of the heart and lungs.
More details about NSAIDs
Although NSAIDs can be bought over the counter without a prescription, it is important they are taken following a doctor’s advice. NSAIDs are usually taken for short periods of time to avoid stomach injury that can result in serious internal bleeding.
Other NSAID side effects include high blood pressure, swelling of the hands, feet, and ankles, kidney problems, and rashes.
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