The Pros And Cons Of Using NSAIDS For Long-Term Pain Relief

Posted on: 7 January 2021

If you suffer from chronic pain, such as ongoing back or neck pain, then you may wish to take either a prescription or over-the-counter medication for pain management. One class of medications very often used for this purpose are NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen, naproxen, and celecoxib. But are NSAIDs the right choice for your ongoing pain management? Explore the pros and cons below to make an informed decision. 

Pro: NSAIDs are non-addictive.

There has been a growing awareness of how much trouble taking addictive medications can cause. Opiate addiction is a huge concern, and many people who are addicted to opiates first took them as a legitimate and legal way to control their pain. NSAIDs are not addictive, so you do not have to worry about dealing with withdrawal symptoms if you skip a dose or decide to stop taking them.

Con: NSAIDs can cause digestive upset.

Ibuprofen and naproxen, the two most common over-the-counter NSAIDs, can both cause stomach ulcers and intestinal irritation, especially when they are taken long-term. The risk of digestive troubles is somewhat lower with celecoxib, a prescription NSAID, but the risk still exists. You can mitigate these risks somewhat by always taking your NSAIDs with food, but if you already suffer from ulcers or similar problems, then NSAIDs might not be for you.

Pro: NSAIDs alleviate inflammation and pain.

For so many people with chronic pain, that pain is either caused or made worse by inflammation. This is true of arthritis pain, and it is true of back and neck pain caused by herniated or slipped discs. NSAIDs work, in part, by reducing inflammation, which thereby reduces pain. If there is any hope that the condition that is causing your chronic pain will heal, reducing the inflammation with NSAIDs will certainly help it heal. In other words, NSAIDs provide more than just short-term pain relief; they promote long-term healing.

Con: NSAIDs may raise blood pressure.

In some, but not all patients, NSAIDs can raise blood pressure. If you are already prone to high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend using NSAIDs for long-term pain management. If your blood pressure rises while taking NSAIDs, you may need to stop taking them. High blood pressure is a concern because it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

If you have a healthy digestive system and cardiovascular system, then NSAIDs can be an effective, non-addictive choice for long-term pain relief. Your doctor can recommend the specific NSAID medication that is best for you.