Millions of Americans take blood thinners – medications that reduce clots from forming in your veins – for a variety of reasons, such as reducing the risk of stroke. Other Americans might have thinner than average blood already due to conditions like anemia.

In either case, taking pain medication to relieve inflammation or discomfort can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. Certain pain and inflammation medication choices can lead to intense blood thinning and a risk of serious side effects, like high blood loss after a simple scratch.

But even though some drugs are off-limits, there are some treatments for inflammation that people on blood thinners can take safely. 

Let’s take a closer look at these options now.

Why Do People Take Blood Thinners?

Anticoagulants, also known as blood-thinning medication, is used to reduce the risks of strokes and blood clots, especially for patients that have atrial fibrillation (which affects over 3 million Americans). Atrial fibrillation is a condition characterized by irregular heart rhythm that also comes with an increased risk for blood clots in the heart.

Clots can be extremely dangerous – if even a single blood clot eventually travels to the brain, a stroke can occur and lead to disability or death.

However, your body needs to maintain its ability to clot blood under certain circumstances. Normally, blood platelets form at injury sites like scratches or scrapes and stick together, preventing you from bleeding out from a minor injury. This also minimizes the risk of infection, as the wound is healed more quickly after clotting.

If you take a blood thinner, you have to be careful not to injure yourself for the duration of your treatment to prevent losing too much blood.

How Can NSAIDs and Other Medicines Pose a Risk?

NSAIDs (or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) make up a variety of common pain and inflammation medications, especially over-the-counter varieties like aspirin. Many people take NSAIDs to alleviate pain or inflammatory symptoms, such as those from rheumatoid arthritis or muscle injuries.

However, NSAIDs can pose a risk to patients that are already on anticoagulant medication. Certain NSAIDs contain additional anticoagulated compounds, effectively exacerbating the blood-thinning effect. This can, under the worst circumstances, lead to intense blood loss if a patient is ever injured since both drugs’ effects will be compounded atop one another. 

What to Take for Inflammation if You’re On Blood Thinners

There are other treatments you can use to alleviate pain and inflammation if you are on intense blood-thinning medication.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any of these solutions, however. They understand your situation better than we do and will be able to find a good solution for your inflammatory symptoms without compromising your health or safety.

Omega Fatty Acids

Omega fatty acids are found in fish such as herring, tuna, anchovies and mackerel. Fatty oils are extracted from their tissue. There are two types of omega fatty acids found in fish oil that help to reduce inflammation, pain and swelling – EPA and DHA. Studies show that they are also effective in supporting heart and immune health. 

If you’re not eating 1-3 servings of fish per week, you may consider adding a balanced Omega supplement to your diet. If you’re dealing with any pain or conditions like joint pain and arthritis, a balanced Omega supplement can assist your body in reducing inflammation and lessening pain while not interacting with your blood thinning medication. 

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice used in cooking dishes like curry. It is also a powerful medicinal herb with many health benefits. The compound that gives turmeric it’s power is Curcumin. Curcurmin is a highly anti-inflammatory and antioxidant active ingredient in turmeric. Studies have shown that it can be just as effective as some anti-inflammatory drugs less the negative side effects.

Supplements containing curcumin have also been considered safe with no known adverse effects. However, extremely high doses over long periods of time have been known to cause indigestion, nausea, rashes, and or headaches.  

Hot or Cold Packs

Aside from herbs, you can also apply homemade or over-the-counter hot and cold packs directly to any inflamed areas.

Hot and cold therapy is a well-established treatment for intense discomfort and inflammation, especially if the pain is centered around your joints or certain muscles. As you apply heating packs or warm towels to the affected areas, the muscles relax and blood flow increases, leading to increased nutrient availability and faster wound regeneration.

Adding an ice pack or another cold implement to an inflamed area can also be beneficial after heating it up for a little while. When you cool tissues intensely, you close the blood vessels and numb the nerves in the affected area, reducing pain and soothing inflammation directly.

Combined, hot and cold therapy can be a consistent and reliable treatment if you experience regular inflammation in areas like your hands, knees, or elbows.

Summary

In the end, anyone taking any type of medication needs to be careful when combining drugs or other therapies. It’s always a good idea to speak to your doctor before combining drugs regardless of their intended effects or possible side effects.

You have to be very careful with blood thinners since the chances of increased bleeding can skyrocket if you combine the wrong medications. The above options should be relatively safe provided you get the okay from your physician.

Sources

Atrial fibrillation – Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

Heat and cold treatment: Which is best? | Medical News Today 

Blood Thinners; Anticoagulants | Medline Plus