The Ultimate Guide to Over-the-Counter Pain Relief for Arthritis

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The over-the-counter (OTC) market is a crowded and competitive one, with no shortage of pain relief products to choose from. Those who suffer from arthritis have it especially tough as they must wade through the sea of OTC options in search of something that will actually work for them. The good news is that there are plenty of OTC treatments available to help reduce arthritis pain. In this blog post, we'll take a look at oral and topical OTC pain relief products that can be purchased without a prescription. The purpose of this guide is to educate you so that you can select the OTC pain reliever that works best for you!

Oral OTC Pain Relievers

First, we will take a look at the uses and side effects of popular oral OTC pain relievers.

Tylenol (acetaminophen)

According to Drugs.com, here are the uses and common side effects of taking Tylenol:

Uses

Provide temporary relief for:

  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • arthritis
  • backaches

Common side effects:

  • nausea
  • upper stomach pain
  • itching
  • loss of appetite
  • dark urine
  • clay-colored stools
  • jaundice

Tylenol may also have interactions with other prescription medications. Consult your physician if you currently take other medication before using Tylenol.

Aleve (naproxen)

Aleve is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

According to Drugs.com, these are the uses and common side effects for Aleve:

Uses

Provide temporary relief for:

  • arthritis
  • muscle aches
  • backache
  • menstrual cramps
  • headache
  • toothache
  • may also temporarily reduce fever

Common side effects:

  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • bruising
  • itching
  • rash
  • swelling
  • ringing in ears

Aleve may also have interactions with drugs used for other conditions. As always, consult with your doctor if you currently use any other prescription medication for anything.

Advil (ibuprofen)

Advil is an NSAID.

According to Drugs.com, the uses and common side effects for Advil are:

Uses

Helps reduce fever, pain, and inflammation for:

  • headache
  • toothache
  • back pain
  • arthritis
  • menstrual cramps
  • minor injury

Common side effects:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • gas
  • bleeding
  • dizziness
  • headache

Advil may have other interactions with prescription drugs and other NSAIDs. Consult with your doctor if you are before taking Advil if you are currently using other medications.

Topical OTC Pain Relievers

Now let’s take a look at popular topical arthritis pain relievers. The main benefit of the topical category is that they do not have nearly as many side effects as the oral OTC category.

Capsiva (homeopathic capsaicin)

Capsiva is a homeopathic topical pain relief gel, meaning ingredients are used in a lower concentrate that have no known side effects. Its formula includes capsaicin, the agent in hot peppers that makes them hot. Capsiva uses a breakthrough formula in the topical space that allows you to experience the benefits and none of the burning or stinging of traditional capsaicin.

According to Drugs.com, the uses for capsaicin topicals are the following.

Uses

Regular use can help 

  • arthritis pain
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • bruising
  • backaches
  • nerve pain

Traditional capsaicin does have common side effects such as burning, itching, or redness of the area applied. But, because Capsiva uses a proprietary homeopathic formula, there are no known side effects for this topical.

Capsiva also has no known drug interactions and is safe to use if you have a preexisting condition.

Voltaren (diclofenac topical)

Voltaren is a topical NSAID.

According to Drugs.com, the uses and common side effects of Voltaren are:

Uses

Treats joint pain caused by osteoarthritis in:

  • hands
  • wrists
  • elbows
  • knees
  • ankles
  • feet

Common side effects:

  • heartburn
  • gas
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • stuffy nose
  • itching
  • increased sweating
  • increased blood pressure
  • skin redness, itching, dryness, scaling, peeling on the applied area

Voltaren Pain Relief Gel used to be a prescription-strength topical but has recently converted to OTC. Consult your doctor before you start to use Voltaren because of the known interactions that occur with other medications.

Icy Hot Extra Strength (menthol topical)

Icy Hot Extra strength is a topical that uses menthol, which is either man-made or mint extract.

According to Drugs.com, the uses and common side effects of Icy Hot Extra Strength are:

Uses

Temporarily relieve pain from

  • minor arthritis
  • backache
  • muscle pain
  • joint pain
  • bruises

Common Side Effects

  • severe burning
  • stinging
  • redness/ irritation

Consult your doctor before you start an OTC treatment for arthritis because interactions can occur with other medications. 

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In Closing

You should now have a better understanding of the popular OTC pain relief options for arthritis pain. This brief overview shared the most common uses and common side effects for each option. It is always best to do more in-depth research before starting a new medicine — even OTC.




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