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I had a patient come to me the other week who has been taking NSAIDs for back pain regularly for at least a year!  She finally got referred to me after she was sent to the ER for GI complications.

25% is the “adverse effect” occurrence of patients who use NSAIDs for an extended period of time (usually 6 months).

75% is the percentage of patients who use NSAIDs regularly that are unaware of, or unconcerned about, possible upper GI complications.

15th most common cause of death in the USA by NSAID-associated upper GI complications.

These are pretty astounding numbers that I think PTs should be aware of, especially since the primary complaint coming to us is pain and majority of patients use NSAIDs.  You can delve into more data and numbers by reading the links but the point is made.  I would be cautious of who you recommend taking an anti-inflammatory that is over the counter and if a patient brings up that he/she takes NSAIDs regularly, you need to educate.

The sad thing is, the same patient that I wrote about above only participated for 2 visits and stopped due to exercises making her sore…I just hope she doesn’t get back on the pills.

What is your experience with patients taking NSAIDs?  How do you approach educating them? 


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