Milwaukee Board Certified Chiropractic Orthopedist and Herniated Disc Doctor writes: So your back starts to hurt. First thing you might do is take some ibuprofen or aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drug. The television commercials make it seem like the thing to do. But these drugs are not without well-documented risks. Is it really the right thing to do? Well, it depends on what you are trying to do and why?
If you are just trying to not deal with the pain, then it might do the trick. It might get rid of the pain. Good for now. And maybe good for a while. But then the pain comes back, so you do it again. And again. And again. Pretty soon you realize that it's not working this time.
Anti-inflammatory drugs affect the type of pain resulting from tissue damage, the second in the list above. That's what the anti-inflammatory works on - the tissue damage. But your body wants to heal itself. And once the tissue is damaged, whether it is a muscle, ligament or a herniated disc, the first step in the healing is inflammation. Interfering with this process doesn't help the tissue heal.
The truth is that damaged ligaments and discs take time to heal, sometimes up to a few years. They take a long time because there is no blood supply bringing healing nutrients to the disc and the disc fibers continue to break under the constant forces on the spine.
Pain is a warning that your body uses to keep you from causing further injury as the tissue heals. In the short term this allows better and quicker healing, but only if you heed the warning and allow the process to progress through to full healing. If you damage the tissue before the healing has advanced past the stage of chemical inflammation, then the healing process gets stuck and the pain continues. It's like continually bumping a scab and breaking it open. Getting rid of the pain for good requires the process of healing to progress through to completion.
While anti-inflammatories may be helpful in the short run to allow you to function enough to get proper care, in the long run they may do more harm than good if you ignore the real reason why the pain is there in the first place. So the answer is, "No. While the anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce the pain, they don't help the disc progress through the healing process."