Skip to content

Osteoarthritis Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and Arthritis


What Are the Common Side Effects of NSAIDs? continued...

Please note: The side effects listed are the most common ones. All possible side effects are not included. Always contact your doctor if you have questions about your particular medication or if you are experiencing any unusual side effect.

Who Is More Likely to Develop Stomach Ulcers and Bleeding While Taking NSAIDs?

Anyone can develop a stomach ulcer while taking NSAIDs. However, several of the following factors may place a person at higher risk:

  • Age over 60 years
  • History of stomach ulcers
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Multiple medical problems
  • 3 or more alcoholic drinks daily
  • Use of anti-inflammatory steroids, such as prednisone
  • Kidney failure


How Can NSAID Side Effects Be Minimized?

There is no way to completely avoid the side effects of any drug, but you and your doctor can minimize your risk of developing some side effects from NSAIDs. For example:

  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead of NSAIDs for pain relief that your doctor doesn't feel requires an anti-inflammatory drug.
  • Take the minimal amount of NSAIDs that you need for your condition.
  • Take NSAIDs with food.
  • If you don't need 24-hour a day relief, avoid one-dose-a-day types of NSAIDs, especially if you are over age 60. These medications stay in your system longer and may cause more side effects.
  • Ask your doctor about taking a second drug, such as a stomach acid blocker that can reduce your risk of injuring the stomach. Some medications combine an NSAID and an acid blocker in one pill.

If you have persistent or unusual pain in your stomach after starting an NSAID, tell your doctor right away.

How Are NSAIDs Prescribed?

NSAIDs are prescribed in different doses depending on your condition. Dosages may range from one to four times per day, depending on how long each drug stays in the body. Your doctor may prescribe higher doses of NSAIDs if you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), for example, because frequently there is a significant degree of heat, swelling, redness, and stiffness in the joints in RA. Lower doses may be adequate for osteoarthritis and muscle injuries, since there is generally less swelling and often no warmth or redness to the joints.

No single NSAID is guaranteed to work. Your doctor may prescribe several types of NSAIDs before finding one that works best for you.

Can I Take NSAIDs If I'm Being Treated for High Blood Pressure?

NSAIDs can raise blood pressure in some people. Some people with high blood pressure may have to stop taking NSAIDs if their blood pressure increases in spite of regularly taking their blood pressure medications.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

elderly hands
Even with arthritis pain.
woman exercising
Here are 7 easy tips.
acupuncture needles in woman's back
How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
chronic pain
Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
Keep Joints Healthy
Chronic Pain Healthcheck
close up of man with gut
man knee support
woman with cold compress
Man doing tai chi
hand gripping green rubber ball
person walking with assistance