A new report on the risks of NSAIDs was published in the Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. It was carried out on a group of people who often suffer OA- post menopausal women.
The study showed increased risks of NSAIDs of cardiovasular events (both fatal and non fatal strokes and heart attacks) with the regular use of COX 2 inhibitors (such as Bextra and Celebrex) and non selective NSAIDs (such as Naproxen).
The scary thing is that regular use was defined as only twice a week. Many men and women with OA use these drugs far more often than that and often for many years.
So why are NSAIDs so effective in relieving OA pain and are their any alternatives?
Why Use NSAIDs for OA?
The name says a lot. These drugs are work by reducing inflammation. However OA is a non inflammatory arthritis so they do not affect the OA itself.
When you get OA the joint becomes dysfunctional. This means the muscles, ligaments and tendons (the soft tissue) around the joint work abnormally. This causes them to become sore and inflamed.
The NSAID reduces the inflammation (and so reduces the pain) in the soft tissue so you feel better. It has not worked on the wear and tear itself and once you stop taking the drug the soft tissue inflammation builds up again so you take the drug again. This means you become a long term user which is exactly what this research says is puts you at risk.
What are the Alternatives to NSAIDs?
There are several as what you are trying to do is make the soft tissue more comfortable.
1. Ice Therapy: I am sure most of you will know you should put ice on an injury. This is because it will stop the swelling caused by inflammation. You can use ice as a prevention (for example if you know you have done too much and will suffer later on) and also when you are in pain. A packet of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works fine and try to wrap the whole joint up (may need 2 bags, one underneath and one on top). How long you leave it on for will depend in which joint if affected. This is gone into in depth in chapter 4 of How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally.
2. Supplements and Remedies: there are many supplements and natural remedies that help with inflammation, including SAM-e, MSM and Devils Claw. However some of these can’t be mixed with other drugs and Devils Claw works along the same pathways as some NSAIDs so cannot be taken by some people. Please go and chat to a someone in the know before embarking on a program.
3. Diet: some foods are known to have an anti-inflammatory effect while some actually increase inflammation. This earlier article I wrote goes into this in more detail.
4. Physical Therapy: this is the best long term treatment to treat inflamed soft tissue. Not only will it reduce the amount of inflammation but will improve the condition of the soft tissue so allow you to do more before they become inflamed and painful. You need to learn how to massage and do a good program of stretching and strengthening exercises for the amount of OA you have. Again all this is taught in How to Treat Osteoarthritis Naturally.
Doctors Know the Risks of NSAIDs Don’t They?
So why are they still prescribing them for long term use?
You may well ask but I rather cynically believe they no longer understand any type of treatment unless it comes in the shape of a pill or capsule and is given to them by a drug company! Are they really so in the pockets of the big pharmaceuticals they will put lives at risk?
Don’t get me wrong NSAIDs have their place in a treatment plan for quick short term use but to keep giving them to people with OA is crazy as there is no cure so they need long term care.
Our healthcare should not make us sicker or risk our lives. The risks of NSAIDs are now so well documented healthcare professionals need to wake up and try something else.
So am I just ranting or do you agree with me? Let me know what you think by leaving your comments below….