Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is on the rise (Open Heart, April 28, 2017). We’re talking about drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. Such pain relievers are perceived as quite safe, since they have been available over the counter for decades. But there is growing evidence that prescription NSAIDs like celecoxib, diclofenac and meloxicam, as well as OTC ibuprofen and naproxen, can impact blood pressure. There are also concerns about heart attacks and other cardiovascular complications. The higher the dose the greater the risk, as this reader discovered.
Ibuprofen and High Blood Pressure
Q. My doctor prescribed 800 mg of ibuprofen a couple of times a day for the pain and inflammation of a severely twisted knee. When I took my blood pressure a few weeks later it was 180/96. That’s much higher than my usual 124/76.
That scared me, so I searched your website for answers. I discovered that ibuprofen and high blood pressure can go together. What else can I use for the pain?
Other Options for Pain:
A. Ask your doctor whether topical NSAIDs like diclofenac gel would help your pain without causing hypertension. There is research to suggest that when diclofenac is used as a spray, gel or patch, it is substantially less likely to cause stomach upset or ulcers compared to the oral formulation (British Journal of Sports Medicine, May, 2018). That doesn’t mean it is safe, just safer than pills.
You can learn more about the advantages of Voltaren Gel at this link.
Since you discovered that you are susceptible to ibuprofen and high blood pressure, you will need to be very especially careful. You will need to monitor your blood pressure even with a topical NSAID. We have heard from readers who report good success, though.
E.B.M. gets her Voltaren Gel without a prescription when traveling:
“I have been buying Voltaren Gel in Germany and Mexico while traveling. It costs usually $10-15 overseas for a large tube. It has worked great for me and my friend who has rheumatoid arthritis and sometimes muscle spasms.
“I don’t use a lot since it is very easily spread (a thin gel). My blood pressure is normal. I would not be without it and was lucky to talk the nurse out of a sample one day.”
Not everyone can tolerate topical NSAIDs, though.
Marilyn developed a bad skin reaction with the prescription NSAID diclofenac:
“My doctor prescribed Voltaren Gel since pain meds upset my stomach. It didn’t upset my stomach, but on the fourth day of applying it, I broke out in a rash all over my arms and legs. I had to stop using it.”
Non-Drug Options for Controlling Pain:
Other options that should not raise your blood pressure include anti-inflammatory herbs such as ashwagandha, boswellia, ginger or turmeric. Bromelain derived from pineapple and Knox gelatin may also be beneficial.
You can learn more about them in our online resource, Alternatives for Arthritis. This eGuide is available for your computer or electronic device at this link. If you prefer a printed book you can hold in your hands, you can find it here.
Share your own story about NSAIDs below in the comment section. If you ever had problems with ibuprofen and high blood pressure please let us know.