Yep – another weird thing I have been researching because when you have an injury, back pain or an arthritic condition that are all driven by inflammation the first line of defence suggested is often NSAIDs (non steroid anti inflammatory drugs), so ibuprofen and naproxen. But they can have some nasty side effects meaning you have to take something else to protect your gut from getting an ulcer so it really isn’t an attractive long-term solution and what if they don’t work?

When my issues started I was on naproxen for over 6 years. At one point I became so anemic the doctor called me worried I had internal bleeding but it was down to stress and the long-term effects of systemic inflammation. However no-one ever questioned whether this strong medication was actually working!

When I had my intense incident in 2018 where I was hospitalised with such swollen bones I was unable to walk, they pumped me full of all kinds of pain relief which did nothing. Eventually when I was out of hospital and back working 2 months later the rheumatologist asked me if I though I got better because they had given me naproxen for 2 weeks. I literally laughed down the phone. I said I had been on it for 6 YEARS prior and it did nothing!

After I was back to full strength I started to wonder what was actually helping. So far all the biological medications have done noting to slow the disease progression but I started to have the feeling that my codeine was helping the pain but naproxen was making it worse! Am I crazy or could this be a thing? So I stopped taking it, and I felt better.

Looking into this there was actually very little I could find but I did come across this interesting article from Caring Medical here on this very subject so I knew it wasn’t just be being weird again. Ross Houser, MD studies what I have been questioning;

As far back as 1995, in a classic study from the University of North Carolina, School of Medicine, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Sports Medicine section found how detrimental NSAIDs use was in healing soft tissue. The paper also stated a fact that many researchers in this field are still wondering, “Despite the lack of scientific data, NSAIDs are widely used, often as the mainstay of treatment.” More than twenty years later – little has changed.

This means, when it comes to arthritic/long-term conditions we need to think twice! NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory in their mechanism of action. Since all tissues heal by inflammation, we can see why long-term use of these medications will have harmful effects. Osteoarthritis and other chronic pain disorders are not an ibuprofen or other NSAID deficiency. Their chronic long-term use will not cure, and will actually hamper soft tissue healing and accelerate the arthritic process.

So while we obviously need to take our doctor’s advice, we also need to question the status-quo. Just because we don’t have anything better doesn’t mean we should just keep doing the same things, especially if we feel they are not helping. Make sure you are not just going through the motions with your medication and remember the individual approach. Just because it works for “most people” doesn’t make it right for all of us.