We periodically warn about the risks of common drugs, which many people use to help with control of TMJ jaw pain, headaches, and more. It’s important to understand that over-the-counter doesn’t mean “safe.”

Now a new study is highlighting the seriousness of risks that come with these common medications, showing that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)–a class that includes ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen (Aleve)–could increase the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE), a serious condition that can kill.

In VTE, a person experiences several large blood clots in large veins, such as those in the legs, which break free, and travel to the heart and lungs. These blood clots block blood flow, impairing the function of the heart and/or lungs. Sometimes it is described as two separate conditions, deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

A Large Meta Study

The study was published in the journal Rheumatology on September 24. It pools data from numerous previous studies to attempt to identify risks that none of the previous individual studies were capable of identifying because they didn’t have the statistical power.

This new meta study pools data from more than 21,000 individual patients who suffered VTE. That’s a lot of statistical power, and it allowed researchers to compare the rate of VTE among NSAID users and non-users. They found that NSAID users were 1.8 times more likely to suffer VTE than non-users.

Patompong Ungprasert, the lead author, noted that this was the first systematic review of NSAIDs and VTE, although NSAIDs have previously been linked to heart failure. Unfortunately, even with the large number of patients in this study did not give researchers enough power to separate out the individual drugs, some of which may have more risk, and others less.

Don’t Keep Taking Medications for Chronic Pain

Although we can’t yet know whether the most common varieties of this class of medication are dangerous, we can’t know if they’re safe, either. We do know that they come with some level of risk, and that taking them too often does put you at risk.

Fortunately, there are good drug-free treatments for chronic pain, including TMJ treatment. If you would like to learn whether TMJ treatment can help you, please call (303) 691-0267 for an appointment with a TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado.