Although different NSAIDs have different structures, they all work by blocking cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. There are two main types of COX enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Both types produce prostaglandins; however, the main function of COX-1 enzymes is to produce baseline levels of prostaglandins that activate platelets and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas COX-2 enzymes are responsible for releasing prostaglandins after infection or injury. Prostaglandins have a number of different effects, one of which is to regulate inflammation.
SOURCES: Byron Cryer, MD, spokesman, American Gastroenterological Association; associate professor of medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas. Nieca Goldberg, MD, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association; chief of women's cardiac care, Lennox Hill Hospital, New York; author, Women Are Not Small Men: Lifesaving Strategies For Preventing And Healing Heart Disease In Women . John Klippel, MD, president and CEO, Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta. Scott Zashin, clinical assistant professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center; author of Arthritis Without Pain . American College of Rheumatology web site. Arthritis Foundation web site. American Heart Association web site. American College of Gastroenterology web site. American Gastroenterological Association web site. American Academy of Family Physicians web site. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology web site.
If you do take an over the counter pain medication, be sure to follow the directions closely. In general, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve) or ketoprofen (Orudis KT) are helpful for those suffering from a sports injury that results in pain, swelling, and inflammation. Generic brands work in the same way and must meet the same standards as the brand name equivalent, but cost less. Read and follow the label directions and don't take more than the recommended dose. Also, don't use any OTC drugs for more than 10 days, unless your doctor or pharmacist tells you it's OK to do so.