Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are analgesics, meaning they are used to provide relief from pain. NSAIDs also have anti-inflammatory properties, and as such, they can reduce swelling and inflammation in the joints, muscles, and tendons.
NSAIDs work by halting the production of the lipid compounds prostaglandins in the body. Prostaglandins are similar to the hormones, but they are responsible for regulating inflammation in the body, and inducing labor, among others. Most importantly, prostaglandins are involved in the process of pain transmission. By lessening the production of prostaglandins, NSAIDs lessen the feeling of inflammation and pain.
These drugs are often used to alleviate painful conditions like arthritis, bursitis, and tendinitis, which cause swelling around the muscles and bones, particularly in the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, wrist, and ankle. NSAIDs are used also for common injuries in sports caused by direct and indirect trauma to the body, like sprains and strains. Aside from these, NSAIDs are used for menstrual cramps and gout attacks. Menstrual cramps, or dysmenorrhoea, are the painful cramps felt in the lower abdomen or back by women before or during their menstrual period. Menstrual cramps may cause an upset stomach and loose stools. A gout attack or a gout flare-up, on the other hand, happens to people with high levels of uric acid in the body, when this uric acid builds up around a joint. A gout attack may begin with a burning, itching, or tingling feeling in a joint that feels stiff or sore. A gout flare-up is very painful.