Over-the-counter pain relief medications are usually the first line treatment for arthritis pain. These medications are well tolerated and are considered safe when used for a short time. Common over-the-counter medications recommended for treating arthritis pain include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen or paracetamol.
Despite the effectiveness of these drugs, certain precautions should be taken while using them. Overdoses can cause serious side effects. Moreover, two or more pain relief medications should not be combined for arthritis relief.
Medication for Treating Arthritis Pain
Acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, is the conventional pain relief drug widely used for alleviating arthritis pain. It belongs to the class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Mild to moderate arthritis pain can be healed with aspirin. It works by inhibiting the activities of the pro inflammatory COX enzymes that trigger inflammation and pain. Do not take aspirin for self-treatment for more than 10 days.
If the pain persists, stop the drug, and immediately seek medical help. Heartburn and stomach upset are common side effects of aspirin. These side effects can be avoided by taking the drug with food or milk. Serious side effects of aspirin that require prompt medical intervention include easy bruising, excessive bleeding, tinnitus, hearing difficulty, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, hives and facial swelling.
Aspirin should not be taken by people who have stomach ulcers or bleeding problems. This drug should be avoided before surgeries. Aspirin is not recommended for people who have more than three alcoholic drinks per day as it increases the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and stomach upset. People suffering from liver or kidney disease should take this drug under medical supervision.
Ibuprofen is a milder non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug than aspirin. Just like aspirin, it works by suppressing the activities of the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. The effect of ibuprofen usually lasts for a shorter time than aspirin. Up to four ibuprofen tablets can be taken a day to reduce acute arthritis pain. Side effects such as constipation, stomach upset, bloating, gas, ringing in the ears and nervousness, although rare, may occur following ibuprofen intake.
While short-term use of ibuprofen is considered safe, prolonged intake may increase the risk of stroke and heart attack. You should avoid or limit alcohol intake to less than three drinks a day while taking ibuprofen. People diagnosed with heart, liver or kidney diseases, asthma, stomach problems and hypertension should consult their physicians before taking ibuprofen.
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Effective Medicines For Arthritis
Over-the-counter naproxen sodium is another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication used for healing arthritis pain. It works in the same manner as the other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Its side effects are same as that of ibuprofen.
Acetaminophen or Paracetamol
Mild arthritis pain can be treated with acetaminophen or paracetamol tablets. It is as effective as ibuprofen in reducing arthritis pain.
However, the anti-inflammatory effect of acetaminophen is usually not as powerful as that of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Acetaminophen is a safer alternative to aspirin for people prone to bleeding problems or stomach upset. People on acetaminophen should limit alcohol intake to three drinks a day to avoid liver damage.