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NSAID’s For Spinal Disc Pain
Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr.
NSAID’s (Non–Steroidal Anti–Inflammatory Drugs) are often recommended for individuals suffering with a spinal disc condition. The name tells you exactly what they are – they are medications that reduce inflammation, but they do not fall into the category of corticosteroids.
When you’re dealing with inflammatory conditions (whether it be pain or other health conditions related to inflammation such as lung diseases), steroids can be prescribed as well. However, steroids have many serious side effects, and for that reason, NSAID’s are usually recommended first.
NSAID’s still have side effects (which we’ll talk about further in this article), but they tend to be less severe compared to steroids. The medications that fall into this category and are often prescribed for these types of conditions include:
- Celecoxib (Celebrex)
- Diclofenac (Voltaren, Solaraze, Flector, Cataflam, Pennsaid, Zipsor, Cambia)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Midol, Caldolor, NeoProfen)
- Meloxicam (Mobic)
- Nabumetone (Relafen)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprelan, Naprosyn, Anaprox)
How Do These Medications Work?
In most cases, the pain that you experience when you have a disc problem is due to inflammation. Let me explain what the inflammatory process is and how it occurs, because this will be important when I explain how these medications work.
Inflammation will typically begin when you have one of two (or both) conditions going on. First, if you injure yourself, this will initiate the inflammatory process. Second, if you have a poor diet, this can also initiate the inflammatory process, but this is more common with chronic inflammatory conditions (such as chronic back pain, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, lung diseases, allergies, asthma, etc.).
Let’s talk about the case of an injury, because that’s usually what causes disc problems for most people. Whenever you have an injury, the tissues in that area will be damaged. So what the body does is, it recognizes that you have an injured area and it’s going to rush a lot of blood to that area because blood delivers oxygen and nutrients for healing.
Now, this all sounds good on the surface, but when the body sends blood to the injured area, it swells up and becomes hot to the touch, which can irritate the nerves and cause pain. In addition to that, the injured tissue will produce a number of different chemicals, which are supposed to let the brain know that there’s a problem there. These chemicals also help to clean up the damaged tissues and help them heal.
When these chemicals interact with the nervous system to let the brain know there is a problem, you will experience even more pain because the brain is trying to protect the injured area (in other words, the brain will make you feel pain so you stop using the injured tissues in order to let them heal).
So let’s talk about a few of these chemicals that are important for the sake of this discussion.
There is a chemical called arachadonic acid, which is actually a chemical that is found in cell walls. Whenever you have an injury, the cell walls can be damaged and they will release arachadonic acid into the blood stream.
The way your body will try to eliminate the arachadonic acid is by creating chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are the chemicals that cause the pain you experience during the inflammatory process.
NSAID’s work by blocking the production of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. This enzyme is known to produce prostaglandins.
So, the idea behind these types of medications is that, if you block the enzyme that produces prostaglandins, this will prevent you from experiencing pain due to inflammation.
Just A Side Note – What Is The Real Significance Of Inflammation?
Sometimes it’s important to look at the bigger picture, and this is one of those moments. Right now, I’m guessing you’re in pain if you’re looking at this information about medications, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to eliminate the pain.
However, there’s a much larger reason for trying to reduce inflammation. When a person develops inflammation that doesn’t go away, we call that chronic inflammation and it can lead to some very serious health issues.
Cancer, heart disease, lung diseases, and other major health problems have all been linked to chronic inflammation. What I’ll do is add a page to this article after we discuss all of the medications to give you some tips on what you should be doing naturally to reduce inflammation, because you can’t take these medications for the long–term or they will cause some very serious side effects.