NSAIDs for osteoarthritis, once again, have been shown to have high risks associated with them.
NSAIDs do not cure or even improve our degeneration. They often reduce the pain we suffer so we keep taking them in the long term.
This is very risky as this research shows there is a high risk of heart attack, stroke and upper gastrointestinal bleeds.
So are there better, safer alternatives to NSAIDs for osteoarthritis?
Why do NSAIDs for Osteoarthritis Work?
NSAID stands for non steroidal anti inflammatory drug so these drugs combat the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis (OA).
It is not the actual degenerated cartilage in the joint that is inflamed but the muscles, tendons and ligaments (known collectively as soft tissue) around the joint. The painful inflammation occurs in them because they are being used incorrectly and overused.
Why Are NSAIDS a Problem for Osteoarthritis Sufferers?
NSAIDs are not all bad. They are a good short term drug for certain things but really a week to ten days should be the maximum length of time you take them for.
They should not be used for a chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis due to the side effects. This article is from Nursing Times on new research on the risks of NSAIDs for osteoarthritis.
This is what they said about various types of NSAIDs
Compared with placebo, major vascular events were significantly increased by more than one third for COX-2 inhibitors and diclofenac 150mg daily. This was mainly due to an increase in major coronary events. The absolute increase in risk was small but serious; compared with placebo, COX-2 inhibitors or diclofenac 150mg daily caused around three additional major vascular events per 1,000 participants per year, one of which was fatal.
Ibuprofen 2,400mg daily did not significantly increase the risk of major vascular events compared with placebo; however, it doubled the risk of major coronary events.
The risk of hospitalisation due to heart failure was approximately doubled by all NSAIDs studied, compared with placebo. In addition, COX-2 inhibitors and diclofenac doubled the risk of upper gastrointestinal complications (mainly bleeds), and ibuprofen and naproxen quadrupled the risk compared with placebo.
These are VERY scary statistics and really if you are on ANY of these drugs you must talk to your Doctor and start looking at alternative ways to reduce your inflammation.
Are You At Risk?
This is a short list of commonly used NSAIDs for osteoarthritis (generic names are in brackets) so you can see whether you are taking one and are at high risk from heart attack or stroke:
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Diclofenac potassium (Cataflam)
- Diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Voltaren XR),
- Diclofenac sodium with misoprostol (Arthrotec)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Motrin IB, Nuprin),
- Naproxen (Naprosyn, Naprelan)
- Naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox)
This is not an exhaustive list but here is a longer one with some general good advice about what to do if you must take pharmaceutical drugs.
Natural Alternatives to NSAIDs for Osteoarthritis
There are lots of natural alternatives to reduce your inflammation. These include:
1. Cold packs: these are highly effective for both when you have inflammation and to prevent it.
2. Supplements: some supplements such as Devils Claw, MSM and SAM-e can be as effective as anti-inflammatory drugs but do talk to your Doctor first. For example Devils Claw works the same way as some NSAIDs so the jury is still out whether you should take it in the long term. (More research is definitely warranted on this highly effective supplement though!)
3. Exercises: it may seem odd but a good exercise program will reduce the amount of inflammation in the soft tissue. This will happen within a few weeks of starting a program. The exercises must be designed for someone with OA and you must do the correct number of these exercises for the amount of degeneration you have. As you stretch and strengthen the soft tissue they become more comfortable and you are able to do more with less pain.
4. Massage: massage increases blood flow to an area. This takes away waste products and brings more of the building blocks needed to repair the body. As you repair the amount of inflammation reduces.
You can learn to use all of these for under $20 by buying one of my How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally books.
These will teach you how to use all of the above effectively (plus a lot more!).
There are books for osteoarthritis in the Hip, Knee, Ankle, Foot & Toes, Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist and Hand, Finger & Thumb.
All come with a 7 day money back guarantee so if you aren’t completely satisfied then I will give you a full refund immediately.
I honestly believe taking NSAIDs for osteoarthritis is risking your general health and maybe even your life. OA is horrible to live with but it doesn’t kill us! There are safe, natural alternatives so the question that keeps being asked of me by my readers is why aren’t our Doctors using them?
Answer: I haven’t got a clue but I can give you good sensible advice on natural alternatives to NSAIDs for osteoarthritis!