1.888.957.7463 [email protected]

Back to Life Blog

Wellness news, tips and inspiration for a healthier tomorrow
2 women do yoga to stay active over 50

If you’re living with neck or back pain, you’ve probably taken some form of anti-inflammatory drugs. The goal of anti-inflammatory medications of all kinds is to relieve painful or irritating inflammation caused by arthritis, injury or overuse. Anti-inflammatory drugs can be broken down into three categories: steroids, cox-2 inhibitors and NSAIDs. While many anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, are relatively benign, there are some that have some pretty serious side effects. It’s important that you know the facts and potential dangers before you begin using any of these drugs. Before starting any medication regimen to alleviate pain, consult your physician to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Types of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Cox-2 Inhibitors

These prescription anti-inflammatories aim to target one specific enzyme to reduce inflammation, whereas NSAIDs target two enzymes and, in the process, can cause stomach problems. While Celebrex is one of the safer prescription drugs, several cox-2’s were pulled from the market including the drug Vioxx, which was proven to kill. Big pharma company Merck paid nearly $1 billion for illegally promoting the unsafe drug. It is estimated that nearly 40,000 deaths were attributed to Vioxx.


Steroids are the most drastic measure available other than surgery to deal with inflammation and pain; however, these drugs can be harmful. Under a doctor’s care, steroids can be used in the short term to reduce inflammation, but they carry serious side effects including glaucoma, cataracts, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, swelling, and more.

NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)

Avoid these medicines if you have kidney problems, as NSAIDs can restrict the flow of blood to the kidneys. Most NSAIDs may increase the risk of hazardous blood clots, heart attacks and stroke, which can increase with higher doses and long-term use. NSAIDs may also cause gastrointestinal bleeding. Those at higher risk include people who take NSAIDs daily, alcohol users, people over 65, patients on blood thinners or corticosteroids and those with a history of stomach ulcers. Aspirin, however, does not increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. People who’ve had a stroke or heart attack are at an elevated risk of further problems when taking NSAIDs except for aspirin.

Ideally, these drugs work best when combined with lifestyle changes like a supportive anti-inflammatory diet and some other kind of therapy, whether it be physical therapy, gentle exercises like yoga, or a joint-friendly sport like golf. Of course, overuse can lead to pain, but being sedentary can also exacerbate the effects of inflammation.

While finding good health care isn’t always easy, at Back Pain Centers of America (BPC) we make the process simple. We will match you with a board-certified orthopedist convenient to you who can provide the quality care you’re seeking. If you’re living with chronic pain, there’s only so much relief these anti-inflammatory drugs can offer, and in the longer term, they are but a temporary solution. Our expert providers offer the latest in minimally invasive treatments which carry shorter recovery time than traditional open back surgery so that you can get back to your active lifestyle as soon as possible. Take the first step and call us today at [sc name=”patient_phone_number_dash”]!

Step 1 of 2

  • Find a Spine Institute
    Close to Home

    Simply enter your zip code to get started on your road to recovery
  • logo

Did you know?

over 87 million people suffer
from back pain

© 2019 Back Pain Centers of America. Back Pain Centers of America does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Information on this website is not designed to replace a doctor's judgment or course of treatment. All physicians and practices operate independent of and are in no way owned or controlled by Back Pain Centers of America. Results and recovery times may vary. User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

**Medicaid not currently accepted. Certain limitations apply to free MRI review.