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How Do I Know Which NSAID Will Work for My Chronic Pain?

The effectiveness of any particular pain medication varies from person to person. So, it may be necessary to try several different medicines at various dosages. Side effects -- and their severity -- vary from person to person. You may not be able to take a particular NSAID because your body can't tolerate it. At the same time, your neighbor may take it and have no problem at all.

Whether you should take an over-the-counter pain reliever or a prescription-strength NSAID also varies from person to person. Remember, over-the counter painkillers are still medicines. They may be cheaper than prescription medicines and you don't need a doctor's prescription to buy them, but they can still have major effects on you. That's especially true if you are going to take a pain pill long-term for chronic pain. If you need pain medicine for more than 10 days, talk to your doctor to see which one is right for you.

Your doctor should know all the medicines you take. Your doctor can advise you if the NSAID may interact with other medications you take. Also, your doctor can suggest the right dose for you. As you continue to take the medicine, your doctor can also monitor its effect, and raise or lower the dose as needed.

Before recommending a specific pain pill, your doctor will want to consider:

  • your medical history
  • past surgeries
  • your current health concerns
  • allergies and past reactions to drugs
  • other medicines you take
  • the functioning of your liver and kidneys
  • the drug's expense
  • your overall treatment plan and goals

When you talk with your doctor, be sure to ask about anything you don't understand. 

Are There Side Effects and Special Cautions Associated With NSAIDs?

Specific side effects vary from drug to drug. For instance, some NSAIDs are harsher on the stomach than others. But there are certain side effects that are common to NSAIDs as a class. Serious side effects include:

  • bleeding problems
  • damage to the stomach and small intestine lining that can lead to ulcers
  • kidney disease
  • elevated blood pressure
  • muscle cramps
  • hearing problems

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