Anti-inflammatory drugs, also called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs, include common over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, and prescription medications, such as celecoxib (known by the trade name Celebrex). NSAIDs reduce the pain and inflammation related to arthritis, menstrual cramps, headaches and muscle pain by creating a shield against COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which cause inflammation.
Ibuprofen, a generic name, is used by millions of people each day. Trade names for ibuprofen include Motrin and Tab-Profen. Prescription-strength ibuprofen, combined with oxycodone, is marketed as Combunox. Ibuprofen combined with hydrocodone is tradmarked as Vicoprofen. While doctors sometimes recommend over-the-counter ibuprofen use is to relieve inflammation caused by arthritis and other chronic conditions, prescription use is designed for short-term use of under 10 days, according to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration.
Celebrex, a COX-2 inhibitor, is the trade name for the generic anti-inflammatory drug celecoxib. The FDA recommends that these medications should be used only in the lowest dose possible and for the shortest time needed because of increased risk for bleeding and cardiovascular problems. The packaging now requires a mandatory warning for these conditions. The agency defines a low dose as 200mg per day for all patients.
Aspirin, sold under popular brand names such as Bufferin and Bayer, is categorized as a NSAID, but according to the FDA does not have many of the common side effects, including stroke and heart attack. In fact, aspirin reduces the risk of both these conditions. Aspirin does increase the chance of internal bleeding in some people and should not be taken by people under the age of 20 because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a rare but deadly disease.
Indocin, Indo-lemmon and Indomethagan are trademarked medications that include the generic drug indomethacin. Studies at the Middlesbrough General Hospital in England found that indomethacin was effective as a night medication for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. People with aspirin allergies, hypertension, dehydration or a history of gastrointestinal diseases should avoid using these drugs, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. These drugs should not be given to the elderly, because increased risks of bleeding related to ulcers have been reported.
Both Cataflam and Voltaren include the generic drug diclofenac. Arthrotec combines both misoprostol and diclofenac. The British Medical Journal reported on a 2005 study done by medical researchers Julia Hippisley-Cox and Carol Coupland that found of a 55 percent increase in the number of heart attacks in patients with recent use of diclofenac (Cataflam) over counterparts who had not used NSAIDs in the previous three years. The study concluded: "... enough concerns may exist to warrant a reconsideration of the cardiovascular safety of all NSAIDs."