they could make back pain worse in the long run

Taking ibuprofen or another anti-inflammatory drug regularly could increase the risk of developing chronic pain, a study finds.

Against back pain, many people have the reflex to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Available without a prescription, these drugs provide rapid relief. But they also have side effects. A new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine reveals that these drugs could increase the risk of developing pain over the long term.

To arrive at this observation, the researchers followed 98 patients suffering from acute low back pain for three months. They wanted to better understand the evolution of acute low back pain to chronic low back pain.

70% more risk

Verdict: Those who took the most anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen to treat back pain had a 70% higher risk of developing long-term pain, compared to those who used alternatives like paracetamol.

The researchers also studied laboratory mice. They found that there was a reduction in the activity of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps heal damaged tissue and cure infections. They therefore believe that anti-inflammatories can dampen the response of the immune system.

“Our results suggest that it may be time to reconsider how we treat acute pain,” concludes Massimo Allegri, a physician at Policlinico Hospital in Monza, Italy, and Ensemble Hospitalier de la Coast in Switzerland. However, these results need to be confirmed by clinical trials.

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