Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Arthritis Health Center

Font Size

Making the Decision on NSAIDs

Should you take anti-inflammatory pain relievers regularly? Here are pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Key Points in Making the NSAID Decision

Consider the following when making your decision:

  • NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are a common class of over-the-counter and prescription painkiller. Examples include aspirin, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and prescription drugs like Celebrex.

  • You should never take any over-the-counter medicine regularly without discussing it with your doctor. Most over-the-counter painkillers should not be used for more than 10 days.

  • Like any medicine, over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs have side effects. The FDA has recently required that all over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs -- except aspirin -- include warnings about possible risks of gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects and allergic reactions.

  • The risks of NSAIDs have been highlighted in the media recently. But it's important to understand that, for many people, NSAIDs are a safe and effective treatment. The key is to work with your doctor. Together, you can weigh the benefits and risks and decide on the best treatment in your case.

  • NSAIDs are not alike. They can have very different pros and cons. Talk to your doctor about the NSAID that might work best for you.

  • NSAIDs can appear in unlikely places. For instance, many over-the-counter medicines for colds and the flu contain doses of these pain relievers. Make sure you know the ingredients of any medicine you use.

  • There are alternatives to NSAIDs. Many people who can't take NSAIDs benefit from Tylenol (acetaminophen.) Other options for people with severe chronic pain are prescription narcotics, like OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Some find that physical therapy, weight loss (if overweight), biofeedback, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can also reduce their pain.

  • In some people, complete pain relief isn't possible. But in such cases, you can focus on reducing your pain so that it doesn't interfere with your life.

What Are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs -- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- are a common treatment for ailments, such as joint pain, related to inflammation. They relieve pain, reduce swelling, and lower fevers.

Examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs are:

There are also prescription strength NSAIDS. Some examples are Daypro, Indocin, Lodine, Naprosyn, Relafen, and Voltaren.

Cox-2 inhibitors are a newer form of prescription NSAID. Celebrex is the only one of these drugs still on the market. Two others -- Bextra and Vioxx -- are no longer sold because of concerns about their side effects.

Today on WebMD

Mature woman exercise at home
Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
feet with gout
Quiz yourself.
woman in pain
One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
senior couple walking
Can you keep your RA from progressing?
xray of knees with osteoarthritis
close up of man wearing dress shoes
feet with gout
close up of red shoe in shoebox
two male hands
Woman massaging her neck
5 Lupus Risk Factors