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Why NSAIDs and OTC Pain Relievers Aren't a Good Long-Term Solution

Talk about confusing. When I was diagnosed with arthritis, I asked a simple question about possible medicines. I got a quick elevator speech and brochures as an answer and felt as though I had opened a textbook with long lists of negative side effects and benefits.


I refuse to get involved with opioids. My options were limited: choose from several non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or RX arthritis medications with a long list of scary sounding side effects.


I originally chose NSAIDs, that operate on the prostaglandin level, which is at the base of cell biology. Prostaglandins are organic compounds (lipids) made by the body wherever there is tissue damage or an infection. Among other functions, they dictate inflammation, which means they are involved with arthritis. They got their unusual name because doctors originally thought these tiny chemicals were produced only in the male prostate gland.


NSAIDs like ibuprofen (best known as Advil and Motrin) block prostaglandins from working. So far, so good. However, prostaglandins dilate blood vessels leading to kidneys. If I get carried away with ibuprofen, my kidneys can be damaged by a lack of oxygen. Unfortunately, kidney disease is not readily detectable. Most people don’t know anything is wrong until it’s serious. Plus kidney damage is long-term.


Also, NSAIDs can boost blood pressure, which isn’t a good idea if your blood pressure is already a little high. That can lead to strokes and other debilitating medical conditions. 


Another option for pain management is an analgesic, which is a fancy term for painkillers that don’t put you to sleep. There is a variety of them with different purposes. 


The most popular is acetaminophen. That’s the generic name for the drug most people know as Tylenol. It’s the most common painkiller on the market, surpassing aspirin. It works, but, as noted earlier, it has been linked to liver damage if used in excess.


We all grew up with another analgesic, acetylsalicylic acid, better known as aspirin. It is found in willow and other plants and was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. It was finally synthesized in 1899 in Germany. While aspirin is generally safe, usage has been linked to strokes caused by broken blood vessels, stomach problems, and allergies. 


That’s the basic problem with any medicine. They all have lots of side effects, so I stop taking medicine as soon as I can. With arthritis, you need a long-term strategy as the pain from arthritis will not go away on its own.


 Managing joint pain and the discomfort of arthritis can be managed by diet, exercise and taking natural supplements. Take a look at The Arthritis Health System’s core products that will enable you to manage your pain and discomfort with natural supplements, without the damaging effects of RX or OTC medicines.