Pain Management Over-The-Counter (cont.)

Dr. Shiel: There are two major classes of pain relievers available in this country without prescription; they are acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Dr. Lee: What are Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

Dr. Shiel: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are medications that impair the production of prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are natural compounds that are responsible for producing fever, pain, and inflammation.

Dr. Lee: Why are they called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs?

Dr. Shiel: They are called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs because they reduce inflammation without the side effects of steroids. Steroids (Prednisone, Cortisone, Medrol, etc.) are potent medications that reduce inflammation, but steroids have predictable and potentially serious side effects, especially with long-term use. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs do not have these steroid side effects.

Dr. Lee: Can you give me some examples of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that are available OTC?

Dr. Shiel: Yes, examples of OTC NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Dr. Lee: Are steroids such as Medrol, Prednisone, and Cortisone pain relievers?

Dr. Shiel: No, steroids are not pain relievers. But this is a common misconception Dr. Lee. Steroids, including Cortisone, are potent medications that reduce inflammation. And reducing inflammation can cause the pain to gradually subside. But steroids are not used specifically for quick pain relief.