Choosing the best non-NSAIDs depends on what the medications are being used for, a patient's current medical conditions, and what medications he currently taking. NSAIDs refer to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and they include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. They work to reduce pain, fever and inflammation, similar to the way aspirin works. Acetaminophen is a popular over-the-counter pain reliever, which is also a component in many prescription pain relievers. This medication is typically well tolerated and is even given to infants in the form of drops.
NSAIDs can produce side effects including stomach pain, nausea, and heartburn, but some of the most serious side effects that they produce include gastrointestinal bleeding and kidney failure. Certain NSAIDs also can cause cardiac arrhythmias and high blood pressure. People who take an aspirin a day to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke should not take other anti-inflammatory medications, unless recommended by the health care provider. Doing so can increase the risk of abnormal bleeding and kidney problems.
Other non-NSAIDs include opioid-based prescription medication combinations such as acetaminophen with codeine. Although effective in controlling moderate to severe pain, these medications can produce significant and sometimes dangerous side effects, which may include extreme drowsiness, delayed reaction time, constipation, and vomiting. In addition, those taking opioids or codeine should not drive or operate dangerous machinery. Since these medications can also cause addiction, they should only be used when absolutely necessary, and when supervised by a qualified health care professional.
Another effective non-NSAIDs pain reliever is called Tramadol®, which is used to treat chronic, moderate to severe pain. It is usually well tolerated in those taking it, however, it can also cause significant drowsiness, headache, dizziness, or even anxiety. Patients who experience side effects from Tramadol® should notify a doctor who may decide to reduce the dosage or recommended another non-NSAIDs pain reliever.
Chronic or severe pain should always be evaluated by a health care professional who can determine which form of non-NSAIDs pain relievers are best. In addition to taking pain relievers, other steps for managing pain may include mild exercise, physical therapy, reducing stress, and taking warm baths. Also, those who experience severe or intractable pain might be helped by seeking help from a pain clinic. A pain specialist can help devise an effective treatment plan that might include pain patches and epidural-based pain relief options.