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Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

BMJ Group Medical Reference

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs) are painkillers that also reduce inflammation. They include drugs like ibuprofen (which you can buy over the counter) and naproxen (which you can get only with a prescription). But there hasn't been enough research to say if an NSAID will make your hand hurt less. Summaries of the research have found these drugs probably won't work any better than a dummy treatment (a placebo) to treat your carpal tunnel syndrome. [18] [26]

But you may find that taking an NSAID helps if you also have a lot of pain and swelling in your fingers caused by tendon problems (doctors call this tendonitis).

NSAIDs have side effects, including nausea and diarrhoea. Taking high doses of some NSAIDs every day for a long time can increase your risk of a heart attack or a stroke. This isn't likely to be a problem if you take NSAIDs for a short time to treat pain.


heart attack

Doctors call a heart attack an acute myocardial infarction (or acute MI). This is the name for the damage that occurs to the heart muscle if it isn't getting enough blood and oxygen because a branch of the coronary arteries is blocked. During a heart attack, you may have pain or heaviness over your chest, and pain, numbness or tingling in your jaw and left arm.


Inflammation is when your skin or some other part of your body becomes red, swollen, hot, and sore. Inflammation happens because your body is trying to protect you from germs, from something that's in your body and could harm you (like a splinter) or from things that cause allergies (these things are called allergens). Inflammation is one of the ways in which your body heals an infection or an injury.


NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. NSAIDs help with pain, inflammation and fever. They are called 'nonsteroidal' because they don't contain any steroids. Aspirin and ibuprofen are both NSAIDs.


A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.


You have a stroke when the blood supply to a part of your brain is cut off. This damages your brain and can cause symptoms like weakness or numbness on one side of your body. You may also find it hard to speak if you've had a stroke.

For more terms related to Carpal tunnel syndrome


For references related to Carpal tunnel syndrome click here.
Last Updated: January 18, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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