Chronic Pain

How Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Help Relieve Pain

Source: WebMD, Healthline
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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are over the counter drugs which are easily available and can be bought without any doctor’s prescription. NSAIDS belong to the drug class which show analgesic (pain killing) and antipyretic (fever reducing) effect, and they reduce inflammation on higher doses showing anti-inflammatory effect.


Paracetamol which shows less anti-inflammatory activity that’s why it is not generally regarded as NSAID. It shows the analgesic effect by blocking COX-2 in central nervous system.


NSAIDs are proven to be effective and show quick response and have fewer side effects as compared to corticosteroids, which are also anti-inflammatory drugs. Before using NSAIDs, one should have information about its safety, side effects and drug interactions with other drugs.

How do they work?

NSAIDs inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 activity and block synthesis of thromboxanes and prostaglandins. Inhibition of COX-2 show anti-inflammatory effect.


Prostaglandin, a substance sensitize nerve endings and enhances pain during inflammation. Prostaglandins also regulate body temperature. NSAIDs show analgesic and antipyretic effect by blocking these effects of prostaglandin.

How do they help with pain?

Since the NSAIDs work to reduce the inflammation, this eventually relieves pain. These drugs can be quite effective. They work quickly, and since they have lesser number of side effects as compared to corticosteroids, they are a better option for inflammation.

Common side effects

OTC availability of NSAIDs does not guarantee their safety. There are a few risks and side effects.Common reported side effects of NSAIDs include GIT and upset stomach, dyspepsia, kidney problems, diarrhea, and gas. Less common side effects include dizziness, lightheadedness or a mild headache. Side effects can be reduced by taking medication with milk, food or antacids. Seek medical attention in case of serious adverse effects such as:

  • Ringing in the ears
  • Fluid retention
  • Severe pain in the stomach 
  • Blurry vision
  • Bloody urine or stools
  • Rash and itching
  • Blood vomit
  • Chest pain
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Rapid heartbeat

NSAIDs are intended for short-term use. Prolonged use increases the risk of side effects.