Making the Decision on NSAIDs
Should you take anti-inflammatory pain relievers regularly? Here are pros and cons to help you make your decision.
Cynthia Dennison Haines, MD
Experts agree that, for most people, there's no harm in taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers, called NSAIDs, for the occasional headache, fever, or muscle ache. Indeed, on any given day more than 30 million Americans use NSAIDs to soothe headaches, sprains, arthritis symptoms, and other daily discomforts, according to the American Gastroenterological Association.
But these useful pain relievers also raise the risk of ulcers and heart problems in some people. Should you take an NSAID every day if you have arthritis or chronic pain?
To help you understand the pros and cons, WebMD turned to four experts for advice:
- Byron Cryer, MD, a gastroenterologist, spokesman for the American Gastroenterological Association, and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
- Nieca Goldberg, MD, a cardiologist, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association, and chief of Women's Cardiac Care at Lennox Hill Hospital in New York.
- John Klippel, MD, a rheumatologist and president & CEO of the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta.
- Scott Zashin, MD, a rheumatologist and clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Here is the information they gave to help you understand your choices, whether you share in the decision-making process or rely on your doctor's recommendation. If you already know this basic information, you can jump directly to your NSAID decision worksheet and begin assessing the pros and cons as they apply to you.