NSAIDs increase the risk of potentially fatal, stomach and intestinal adverse reactions (for example, bleeding, ulcers, and perforation of the stomach or intestines ). These events can occur at any time during treatment and without warning symptoms. Elderly patients are at greater risk for these adverse events. NSAIDs (except low dose aspirin) may increase the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks , stroke , and related conditions. This risk may increase with duration of use and in patients who have underlying risk factors for heart and blood vessel disease. Therefore, NSAIDs should not be used for the treatment of pain resulting from coronary artery bypass graft ( CABG ) surgery.
Prescription NSAIDs are an important treatment for the symptoms of many debilitating conditions, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and other rheumatological and painful conditions. OTC NSAIDs are used to temporarily reduce fever and to treat minor aches and pains such as headaches, toothaches, backaches, muscular aches, tendonitis, strains, sprains and menstrual cramps. Common OTC NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). In addition, some combination medicines that relieve various symptoms, such as multi-symptom cold products, contain NSAIDs.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most frequently prescribed medications worldwide and are commonly used for treating low-back pain. This review found 65 studies (including over 11,000 patients) of mixed methodological quality that compared various NSAIDs with placebo (an inactive substance that has no treatment value), other drugs, other therapies and with other NSAIDs. The review authors conclude that NSAIDs are slightly effective for short-term symptomatic relief in patients with acute and chronic low-back pain without sciatica (pain and tingling radiating down the leg). In patients with acute sciatica, no difference in effect between NSAIDs and placebo was found.