More reason to avoid long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for osteoarthritis, unless your doctor has advised it: Their pain-relief effects peak during the second week of use and then gradually decline. By the eighth week, there is no significant pain relief, on average, compared to a placebo, according to an analysis of 72 clinical trials involving people with knee osteoarthritis, published in Arthritis Care & Research.
NSAIDs include OTC options such as ibuprofen and naproxen, as well as prescription drugs such as celecoxib, diclofenac, and meloxicam. The incidence of adverse effects (mostly minor and transient), such as gastrointestinal distress, edema (swelling), and increased blood pressure, became significant by the fourth week of use and continued for the duration, though different NSAIDs had varying risk profiles.
These findings support the standard recommendation that these drugs should be used at the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration, the authors noted.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Don't Go Overboard with Ibuprofen.