How I Use NSAIDs to Manage AS Symptoms

Like most people, the first medication I was prescribed when first diagnosed with AS was a course of anti-inflammatories.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) have been the first stage medication recommended for AS for many years. Most people with AS have had some experience with this type of drug, and they get fairly mixed reviews within the community.

For the most part, I’ve found this particular medication to be a really useful strategy in my tool kit.

After 13 years of pain, NSAIDs brought me relief

I was as used to pain and sleep deprivation as you can get, and the relief the medication gave me in those early days was like a gift from heaven. To be able to lie on my back in bed and sleep comfortably for hours at a stretch was something I never thought I’d be able to do again, and it was all thanks to those little green and yellow pills my doctor had written up for me.

But they did lose effectiveness

Over the course of the following year my pain returned. I was very disappointed the effectiveness of the NSAIDs hadn’t lasted. I actually became pretty disillusioned with treatment in general at that point, and set off on my own to try all kinds of lifestyle change in place of medication.

This approach had mixed success. After a few years of trial and error I came back to a more balanced approach to managing my condition. My new way of thinking recognized the value of both lifestyle and medical treatment strategies rather than choosing one or the other.

I decided to give the anti-inflammatories another try

This time I found they very quickly brought my pain and inflammation under control. The improvements I’d made to my general health seemed to allow my body to utilize the meds more efficiently. I began to use them as a helpful circuit breaker whenever my symptoms spiked.

I tried a few different types of NSAIDs before settling on Meloxicam. It had the least impact on my digestion and quickly brought my inflammation under control. If I was on it for longer than a few months I noticed some brain fog and mild depression would set in, and it would start to lose its effectiveness in managing my pain.

This became my cue to ramp up the other strategies I used to stay well, such as watching my diet and making sure I moved my body and managed my stress levels.

Finding a balance of NSAIDs, low-dose Naltrexone, and lifestyle habits

Ten years on from diagnosis, I still use NSAIDs from time to time. I’m also on Low Dose Naltrexone but apart from this, it’s the lifestyle I’ve adopted that largely keeps me symptom-free. I still have AS, and at times symptoms flare up so I’m really glad to have the NSAIDs to call on when needed. Sometimes I’ll just take them for a week or two, other times longer.

They’re a low cost medication with few side effects, so I’m happy to have them in my arsenal. I still get scans regularly to monitor for progression and everything so far appears stable, so that reinforces for both me and my rheumatologist that my personal strategy is working well.

I do know for some people NSAIDs simply don’t cut it or give them the pain relief they need, and I readily acknowledge there’s a lot of different experience from person to person.

For me, there was value in using NSAIDs to manage my condition. There are several different kinds to choose from and I found that in conjunction with other lifestyle changes, their effectiveness was boosted.

I’d love you to know others’ thoughts on NSAIDs. Please share your comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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