Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a type of medication used in the treatment of arthritis that help relieve symptoms of pain and inflammation (redness or warmth).

All NSAIDs work by reducing the levels of certain substances in the body released when inflammation occurs.

There are many different NSAIDs available in Canada, including ASA, celecoxib, diclofenac, indomethacin, etodolac, naproxen, flurbiprofen, and ibuprofen. Most NSAIDs are used to treat osteoarthritis in general, so they can be used for a variety of different body areas affected by osteoarthritis.

If you have OA but you are at increased risk for stomach problems, your doctor may recommend a COX-2 inhibitor or a nonselective NSAID with an added medication to protect your stomach.

More common side effects of NSAIDs include stomach upset, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These medications may increase your risk of heart conditions. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you on what to expect and how to manage side effects. You should not use ASA (e.g., Aspirin®) for pain relief while you are taking an NSAID (talk to your doctor if you take small doses to prevent heart attacks). If you need an extra pain reliever, ask your doctor or pharmacist if you can use acetaminophen along with your NSAID. NSAIDs may increase the risk for bleeding associated with drugs such as warfarin.