Limitations of NSAIDs for pain management: Toxicity or lack of efficacy?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are widely used in the management of arthritis and acute and chronic pain of many etiologies, including cancer-related pain. These drugs are indicated for use as single agents in mild to moderate pain and in combination with opioid analgesics or adjuvant analgesic drugs in severe pain. NSAIDs, which nonselectively inhibit the cyclooxygenase enzymes (isoenzymes 1 and 2), pose a potentially serious risk of gastrointestinal toxicity with acute and chronic use, hematologic toxicity with acute use, and nephrotoxicity with chronic use. Patients experiencing acute and chronic pain associated with serious and even life-threatening medical illness such as cancer and human immunodeficiency virus/aquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) fall into a high-risk group with respect to the use of NSAIDs. This is so because the occurrence of gastrointestinal bleeding and the masking of opportunistic infections related to the antipyretic effects of NSAIDs pose particular risk and might even cause lethal complications in patients who are neutropenic, thrombocytopenic, or otherwise immuno-compromised.
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