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HealthInfo Canterbury

Analgesic nephropathy

An analgesic is a pain-relieving medicine (painkiller), and nephropathy (nef-roh-path-y) means damage to the kidneys.

Analgesic nephropathy is damage to your kidneys caused by regularly using certain pain-relieving medicines for several years.

What pain relievers cause analgesic nephropathy?

People often need long-term pain relief for back pain, chronic (long-lasting) headaches, and other muscular and joint pain that doesn't go away. A group of pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (or NSAIDs) carry an increased risk of causing kidney damage. Using these pain relievers occasionally, for a short time, doesn't cause a problem (unless you already have a kidney problem), but using them for a long time does.

Examples of NSAIDs are diclofenac (Voltaren), ibuprofen (Nurofen) and naproxen (Naprosyn, Noflam).

Paracetamol and aspirin don't carry a high risk of causing kidney damage, but tablets that combine them with an NSAID do.

How is it treated?

Treatment for analgesic nephropathy aims to prevent any further damage to your kidneys. It involves:

If your kidneys haven't been too badly damaged, with the right treatment you should be able to prevent any further damage. However, if you already have advanced kidney disease it may continue getting worse even though you stop taking NSAIDs.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director, Nephrology Department, Canterbury DHB. Page created August 2016.


Page reference: 203482

Review key: HICKD-117713