The use of both over-the-counter and prescription nonsteroidal medications is frequently recommended in a typical neurosurgical practice. But persistent long-term use safety concerns must be considered when prescribing these medications for chronic and degenerative pain conditions. This article is a literature review of the biochemical pathways of inflammatory pain, the potentially serious side effects of nonsteroidal drugs and commonly used and clinically studied natural alternative anti-inflammatory supplements. Although nonsteroidal medications can be effective, herbs and dietary supplements may offer a safer, and often an effective, alternative treatment for pain relief, especially for long-term use.
Synovial fluid is a thick, slippery substance with a consistency similar to egg white. It acts like an oil and fills small cavities within the joint cartilage, providing oxygen and nutrients when the joint is resting. Synovial fluid also pushes the bones apart so they don’t rub together to cause pain. Glucosamine also provides building blocks for making new cartilage, and repairing damaged areas. Glucosamine is also known to damp down inflammation and act as a biological signal to stimulate tissue repair.
Few people need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn't responded to other therapy.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse.[3] In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.[4]
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