Non-Narcotic Analgesics/NSAIDs/Non-opioids

Non-Narcotic Analgesics/Non-opioids

[Tylenol (chemical name: acetaminophen); non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Motrin or Advil (chemical name: ibuprofen), and Aleve or Naprosyn (chemical name: naproxen sodium)]

Used to treat mild to moderate acute or chronic pain and inflammation, these drugs can be bought over the counter or by prescription at higher doses. They are also used in combination with opioids to treat moderate to severe pain.


The most common side effects are kidney problems, liver problems and bleeding and bruising (with NSAIDs only).


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) [aspirin, Excedrin, Bufferin, Celebrex, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Motrin IB, Buprin), naproxen, Vioxx and many others. A type of non-narcotic analgesic, NSAIDs are used to reduce inflammation but are not related to steroids, which also reduce inflammation. They are used to treat mild to moderate pain like headaches, coughs and colds, sports injuries, arthritis and menstrual cramps. NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins—chemicals in the body that produce inflammation, fever and pain. However, since prostaglandins also protect the stomach and promote blood clotting, NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers/pain and increase the risk of bleeding and bruising. These are the most serious side effects, plus kidney failure and, rarely, liver failure.


NSAIDs should not be used presurgically or with chemotherapy. They are also not recommended if the person:


  • is taking steroids, blood pressure medications, blood-thinning medications, prescription medications for arthritis, oral medications for diabetes or gout, or lithium
  • has stomach ulcers or a history of ulcers, gout, or bleeding disorders
  • has kidney problems


For more information on NSAIDs, simply visit The Alliance for Rational Use of NSAIDs. This is a public health coalition dedicated to educating people about the safe and appropriate use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


Opioids (see Narcotic Analgesics/Opioids)