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What are the Different Types of Anti-Inflammatory Medications?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Anti-inflammatory medications are often used to treat medical conditions that cause swelling or inflammation in various areas of the body. Some of these medical conditions may include pulled muscles, arthritis, or lupus. Ibuprofen is an example of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, and cortisone is a type of steroid that has anti-inflammatory properties. Anti-inflammatory medications are available both with and without a prescription.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly referred to as NSAIDs, are the most commonly prescribed medications for conditions such as arthritis and muscle pain. Many of these medications are available over the counter and can be found in most drug stores. Some common types of non-prescription anti-inflammatory agents include aspirin, ibuprofen, and ketoprofen. There are also prescription NSAIDS available if these over-the-counter medications do not provide adequate pain relief.

There are some potential negative side effects when using NSAIDs, and any of these side effects should be reported to a physician. Irritation involving the lining of the stomach is one of the most common side effects of these medications. Without proper treatment, this may lead to complications such as bleeding ulcers. Patients with other medical conditions, including high blood pressure or kidney disease, should discuss the use of these medications with a physician, as the potential side effects could be more serious.

Steroid medications such as cortisone are man-made, or synthetic, versions of natural hormones produced by the human body. These medications are often prescribed as anti-inflammatory medications. Steroid creams or ointments are often used externally to reduce swelling and inflammation associated with muscle, skin, or joint issues. Cortisone injections may be given by a doctor for deeper muscle or joint problems, including conditions such as arthritis or bursitis.

Natural anti-inflammatory remedies are becoming more popular, particularly among patients who are concerned about potential negative side effects from more conventional medications. Perhaps the most popular medication in this category is glucosamine–chondroitin. This supplement is thought to work by reducing inflammation of the joints and promoting the growth and development of healthy cartilage. These supplements are widely available in most drug stores and do not require a prescription. Ginger is another popular anti-inflammatory herb that has few, if any, negative side effects.

Whether choosing conventional or herbal anti-inflammatory remedies, it is important to consult a doctor first. Some medications do not work well together, and even some herbal treatments may interfere with the effectiveness of other medications. A doctor can help the patient to develop a safe, individualized treatment plan.

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Discussion Comments
By indigowater — On May 11, 2011

@Firstbase - I use 1500 mg of glucosamine and 1200 mg of chondroitin when arthritis rears his ugly head. Both of these are pretty well researched and have a proven track record.

I guess my only worry is with the quality of supplements, because I know that some aren't subject to much regulation. So, get the best quality you can find if you're going to take anti-inflammatory supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine.

By SarahG — On May 11, 2011

@Firstbase - I agree, natural herbal supplements (like otc anti-inflammatory meds) are gaining popularity as the general public becomes more educated about side effects of prescription meds.

Even though ginger has been used for thousands of years in China for various illnesses and as a culinary spice, there are people who shouldn't use it. People with gallstones or bleeding disorders, someone getting ready to undergo surgery definitely shouldn't use ginger.

It's important for people to know they should still talk to their doctors about whatever they are using for anti-inflammatory pain relief — even if it's "just" an herbal supplement.

By FirstBase — On May 10, 2011

I prefer using natural supplements as much as possible to avoid the negative side effects that can be brought on with conventional medicine.

This article mentions two anti-inflammatory supplements that are natural and non-prescription; glucosomine-chondroitin and ginger.

I'd really like to know how much glucosomine-chondroitin or ginger I should take to combat joint pain.

Also, can I take both at the same time or is that unnecessary? Anyone have positive or negative comments on these two supplements?

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