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Can the anti-inflammatory drugs you’re taking actually accelerate your arthritis?

Can the anti-inflammatory drugs you’re taking actually accelerate your arthritis?

Can your arthritis be accelerated by the anti-inflammatory drugs you’re taking?

A lot of the people who come and see us at The Chiropractic Centre: Bristol are struggling with the symptoms of arthritis, and are often taking one of many Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for it.  However research shows that this is the last thing you want to be taking, as these drugs have been proven to accelerate arthritis, the very problem you are trying to prevent!

Cartilage is found between joints and is there to act as a shock absorber, to help the bones move freely in the joint, and to stop the bones grinding on one another.  Osteoarthritis, otherwise known as ‘wear and tear’ is where the cartilage between joints begins to wear down and the movement in the joint decreases and you begin to develop stiffness and pain.

NSAIDs are the most commonly prescribed drugs for symptoms of Osteoarthritis, however research suggests that these drugs quicken the break down of cartilage in the joint, in other words, quicken the process of arthritis!

When our body is damaged, it starts an immune response to begin the healing process.  When the bone and cartilage is affected, the body releases molecules called prostaglandins, along with many more!  These prostaglandins contribute to the repair of cartilage (Otsuka, Aoyama, Furu, et al., 2009).  NSAIDs stop this from happening by stopping an enzyme that produces these prostaglandins; which is not what you want when you have already damaged joints!

Research shows that commonly used NSAID pain killers slow down the repair of cartilage and speed up the development of arthritis in your joints

Many people know the common side effects of NSAIDs can be upper gastrointestinal bleeding, (Dincer, Duman, Dikici, et al., 2006) but the side effect of accelerating the break down of cartilage and therefore progressing arthritis is presently going widely unreported.

Hauser (2010) showed that those using NSAIDs for arthritis, compared to patients who do not use them, are more likely to need joint replacements earlier and more frequently!  This was especially noted for hip and knee replacements and spinal surgeries.

It’s important to note that NSAIDs have their place, and short term can make the difference between being in agony and more bearable pain.  The long term use and reliance on NSAIDs for pain relief is where when the major issues start to occur and it’s essential you look to alternative methods to relieve your pain levels.

Here at The Chiropractic Centre: Bristol, we use Chiropractic adjustments and mobilizations on arthritic joints.  The effects of this have been proven to include; reduction of pain and muscle hyperactivity, improvement in joint proprioception and, overall, an increase in joint mobility (Vernon,H., 2013).

Evening Prom Dresses

Left: An x-ray of a normal knee. Right: An x-ray of an arthritic knee.



Hauser, R., A., (2010) ‘The Acceleration of Articular Cartilage Degeneration in Osteoarthritis by Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs’ Journal of Prolotherapy. (1):305-322.

Dincer, D.; Duman, A.; Dikici, H.; Arici, C.; Suleymanlar, I.; Isitan, F. (2006) ‘NSAID-related upper gastrointestinal bleeding: are risk factors considered during prophylaxis?’ International Journal of Clinical Practice, Vol.60(5), pp.546-548

Otsuka, S.; Aoyama,T.; Furu, M.; Ito, K.; Jin, Y.; Nasu, A.; Fukiage, K.; Kohno, Y.; Maruyama,T.; Kanaji,T.; Nishiura, A.; Sugihara, H.; Fujimura, S.; OtsukazT.; Nakamura,T.; Toguchida,J. (2009) ‘PGE2 signal via EP2 receptors evoked by a selective agonist enhances regeneration of injured articular cartilage’. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Vol.17(4), pp.529-538

Vernon, H., (2013) ‘Manipulation/Manual Therapy in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis’. Journal of Arthritis 2(1).

Kapadia, S., [online] Available at:

1 Comment

  1. Great article, very interesting read! Scary to think the effect they could be having is worse than the arthritis itself. So important to be aware of this!


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