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Arthritis pain relief with medications and topicals, a lot of people benefit from.
Arthritis pain relief medicines reduce pain in muscles and joints. These medicines have their own characteristics and some types of pain may respond better to them than others. And as with a lot of things in life, each person may respond a bit different to certain medication.
In general, these Over-The-Counter (OTC) drugs can be divided into Acetaminophen drugs and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory drugs.
Medicines for Arthritis Pain Relief
Acetaminophen - also known as paracetamol - is part of a group of pain relief medicines called Analgesics - are quite suitable for treating mild to moderate Arthritis pain. But the effect on inflammation is little. Examples of acetaminophen drugs are brand names such as
- Tylenol Extra Strength Acetaminophen Caplets.
- Anacin Fast Aspirin & Caffeine Pain Reliever, Coated Tablets.
When taken as directed there usually shouldn't be side effects. Mind that you don't take any other Acetaminophen drug, as too much of it may cause liver damage or even death. Max. is 3,000mg per day.
So talk to your doctor if you have a history of liver disease, alcohol or drugs abuse, or when using blood thinner Warfarin (Coumadin).
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
Besides reducing pain, these popular NSAID medicines which are derivatives of salicylic acid, also reduce joint swelling and inflammation, or signs of it, such as redness, swelling, fever.
They kind of block enzymes in the body. The enzymes support so-called prostaglandins which are components that play a role in inflammation and pain.
Examples of these Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are Aspirin - max. 4,000 mg per day, for max. 10 days for pain, and avalable under brand names such as Bufferin, Bayer, Ecotrin, or as generic versions or store brands.
Aspirin makes the blood a bit thinner.
- Bayer Aspirin Enteric Coated Tablets
- Ecotrin Safety Coated Tablets Aspirin Regular Strength
- Bufferin Buffered Aspirin Pain Reliever/Fever Reducer - Coated Tablets.
Possible side effects of Aspirin might be discomfort, pain, drowsiness, dizziness, abdominal cramps, heartburn, nausea, headache, feet swelling, diarrhea.
It is always wise to talk to your doctor if you want to use these drugs.
You can also use Ibuprofen. It relieves pain, also helps against fever and infections, - max. 1,200 mg per day, for max. 10 days for pain, and available under brandnames such as
- Kirkland Signature Ibuprofen tablets
- Advil Tablets - Ibuprofen - Coated Tablets
- Advil Liquid Gels - Soluble Ibuprofen capsules
- Motrin IB Ibuprofen capsules
- Equate Ibuprofen tablets
Naproxen is also a non-inflammatory drug, - max. 660 mg per day, for max. 10 days for acute pain. These medicines block two specific enzymes, named COX-1 and COX-2 and are available under brand names such as
- Aleve caplets
- Kirkland Signature Naproxen sodium caplets Non-Prescription-Strength
You also have the COX-2 inhibitor, named Celecoxib - which mainly blocks COX-2, - max. 400 mg per day for Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), is available under brandname Celebrex. This anti-inflammatory drug reduces the symptoms of arthritis without endangering the stomach and kidneys.
Ibuprofen's, Naproxen's and Celecoxib's possible side effects might be discomfort, pain, drowsiness, dizziness, abdominal cramps, heartburn, nausea, headache, feet swelling, diarrhea, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears, ringing in the ears.
When considering Ibuprofen or Naproxen and are sensible for gastrointestinal side effects, you might take a COX02 inhibitor such as Celecoxib instead, or other stomach protective medicine.
It is always wise to talk to your doctor if you want to use these drugs.
Topicals for Arthritis Pain Relief
Over-the-counter (OTC) topical formulations for relieving arthritis pain may be helpful for your knees, hands, fingers, ankles and elbows, but to a much lesser degree for your shoulder, hip or back pain.
By the way, here's more on arthritis compression gloves for your hands.
When choosing an OTC arthritis pain reliever - an analgesic balm, rub or salve - be sure that it contains the active ingredient Histamine Dihydrochloride, for example in Australian Dream arthritis cream , or the active ingredient: Menthol or Camphor, Capsaicin or Salicylates, see examples below. The meaning of analgenic = capable of relieving pain.
Menthol or Camphor
A topical that contains Menthol or Camphor interacts with nerve endings responding to stimulation. You'll often feel a cool sensation when applying the topical. Examples of topicals containing Menthol or Camphor are:
- Biofreeze contains active ingredient: menthol 4%
- Icy Hot contains menthol, a combination of menthol and camphor, and a combination of menthol and methyl salicylate.
- Stopain Extra Strength, contains active ingredient: menthol 8%
- Sombra Warm Therapy Natural Pain Relieving Gel, contains active ingredients: Menthol 3%, Camphor 3%
A topical that contains Capsaicin - originating from the heat producing component in chili peppers - wipes out certain nerve cells that send pain signals to your brain. You'll often feel a burning sensation when applying the topical, which must be used regularly. This topical analgesic can be used along with or instead of oral analgesics or NSAIDs for arthritis pain. Examples of topicals containing capsaicin are:
- Zostrix HP contains purified capsaicin 0.075%
- Capzasin-HP contains capsaicin 0.1%0.075%
A topical that contains Salicylates consists of pain reliever components and is the main ingredient in Aspirin. It should relieve surface pain more than does arthritis pain. It is better not to use Salicytate products if you take blood thinners. Examples of topicals containing Salicylates are:
- Bengay Ultra Strength Pain Relieving Cream. Active ingredients: Camphor 4%, Menthol 10%, Methyl salicylate 30%
- Aspercreme Odor Free Topical Analgesic Cream. Active ingredient: Trolamine salicylate 10%
Before applying an ointment or gel mentioned above, you could talk to your doctor about it. There might be side effects, drug interactions or incompatibilities with your health condition.
Sodium Channel Blockers
The so-called sodium channel blockers such as lidocaine and prilocaine, work best for nerve disorders. These topicals numb nerve endings close to the skin, so you'll feel less pain.
An example of such a lidocaine topical is:
- Numb Master Topical Anesthetic Lidocaine Cream.
These NSAIDs influence the joint fluid and reduce inflammatory proteins such as prostaglandins resulting in a direct anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effect.
Advantage of applying Topical Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammation Drugs is that there may be less side effects than oral NSAID. It's supposed to lessen cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks.
An example of such NSAID is - Voltaren Gel is a topical formulation of the NSAID diclofenac, and is available only by prescription.
Joints and Food
Besides medicines and topicals, professionals recommend taking moderate portions of meat, fish, cheese, coffee, alcohol, sweet drinks and taking more vegetables, salads and fruits.
Some people also benefit from drinking herbal tea.
Good fats are also important for healthy joints. So try to take fat fish twice a week. Fish that's fat: mackerel, herring, eel, sardines, salmon, bloater, halibut.
Eating Fish eases Rheumatoid Arthritis pain.
Recently a study showed that more frequently eating fish - at least twice a week - may be associated with lower disease activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients.
Medicine's expiration date.
If you worry about the expiration date of a medicine, here's more on expiration dates.