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NSAIDS: No Benefits, But Ample Harm: What Everyone Needs To Know

Over the counter NSAIDS (Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) like Advil, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Motrin and prescriptions NSAIDS are the most widely recommended drugs for acute and chronic back pain.

Astonishingly there is no evidence, and there never has been any evidence, that they have any clinically relevant benefit for pain or disability.

“For people with acute low back pain, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) were found to be slightly better in reducing pain and disability than placebo in the short-term.  However, the magnitude of the effect is small and probably not relevant [no real-world benefit for acute back pain or disability.]”[1]

 “NSAIDS reduced pain and disability in people with chronic low back pain compared to placebo. However, the differences were small: 7 points on a 100-point scale for pain intensity.  Regarding disability, people receiving NSAIDs scored 0.9 points on a 0 to 24 disability scale [no clinical relevant benefits for chronic back pain or disability].”[2]

Not only are these drugs ineffective, they are associated with huge numbers of hospitalizations, GI injuries, kidney injuries, heart problems and death.  The cost of these adverse events is in the hundreds of billions and the cost of the loss of life is, of course, incalculable.

“Each year more than 100,000 patients are hospitalized for NSAID-related GI complications alone, with direct cost ranging from $1800 to $8500 per patient per hospitalization [this equal $180,000,000 – $850,000,000 per year just for GI complication]. Moreover, it has been reported that 16,500 persons die annually from these complications.  In the elderly, the medical cost of adverse GI events associated with NSAID use likely exceeds $4 billion per year.”[3]

All this for NO BENEFIT!

The most prominent underlying cause of back pain is lack of proper motion in your spinal joints which leads to tissue inflammation and degeneration and to neuromuscular dysfunction.

No drug can restore motion or improve neuromuscular dysfunction. Only resorting proper joint motion can do this and only chiropractic adjustments/manipulation can restore proper joint motions.

A randomized clinical trial that was published in Spine compared the effectiveness of medication, acupuncture and spinal manipulation in treating neck pain and back pain.  [4]The trial concluded that in patients with chronic spinal pain, manipulation resulted in greater improvements that acupuncture and medication. 27.3% of the patients that received spinal manipulation became asymptomatic, compared to 9.4% of the patients receiving acupuncture and only 5% of the patient receiving medication.

Don’t hide your symptoms with drugs, address the underlying cause and resort motion and function, resolve inflammation and pain, and restore your comfort and quality of life with chiropractic.

If you are dealing with back or other spine-related pain call 970-207-4463 or click here to request a FREE consultation and exam with a chiropractor in Fort Collins.


  1. van der Gaag, W.H., et al., Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for acute low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2020. 4(4): p. Cd013581.
  2. Enthoven, W.T., et al., Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for chronic low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 2016. 2(2): p. Cd012087.
  3. Fine, M., Quantifying the impact of NSAID-associated adverse events. Am J Manag Care, 2013. 19(14 Suppl): p. s267-72.
  4. Giles, L.G. and R. Muller, Chronic spinal pain: a randomized clinical trial comparing medication, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976), 2003. 28(14): p. 1490-502; discussion 1502-3.

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