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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

How long can I keep taking painkillers before they start affecting my health?

Q) Suffering pain and discomfort, including at night-time, a visit to the doctor and subsequent x-ray of my hip led her to tell me my hip ‘was rubbish’ but rightly detected that I wished to delay surgery as long as possible. My doctor has prescribed 250 mg Naprosyn twice daily to be supplemented ‘as required’ by paracetemol and codeine. I'm reasonably active around the garden, plus a weekly visit to the gym. At this stage I can actually get through most days comfortably taking just one Naprosyn daily plus glucosamine – supplemented only by paracetemol on an exceptionally active day. Paracetemol and ibuprofen are commonly used for the relief of arthritis but all these drugs carry a warning that they can damage other organs and suggest a maximum daily dose. At age 77 and enjoying life now almost pain free, no stick and no limping I continue to be reluctant to put myself forward for surgery, though I have seen it suggested that replacing joints should be carried out as soon as possible. I would like to know if any research has been carried out to give a ‘fair indication’ of how many months, or years the recommended dosages of these drugs may be taken before there is real threat to organs and general health.
E Scott, Northamptonshire (Autumn 2011)

A) I believe you are doing just the right thing at the moment and I would have no concerns about you carrying on this way for the foreseeable future. I don’t know of any research that could answer your specific question but I think any risks to you, your stomach and your heart will be offset by the pain-free, active life you have. When, and if, this happy situation ends, then the new hip can be contemplated.

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