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arthritis pain relief medication

The Ultimate Guide to Arthritis Pain Relief Medication

Arthritis pain relief medication can be used depending on the nature of the injury and the severity of the problem, giving you relief and the freedom to go about your daily activities, pain-free.

Various types of arthritis pain relief medication differ in the application and potency and may have varied side effects and, consequently, inherent risks associated with taking them. Therefore, it’s essential to consult your doctor on the best arthritis pain relief medication for you. Options available include:

Over-the-Counter Arthritis Pain Relief Medication

Arthritis pain relief medication over the counter can be bought in drug stores and are cheap and accessible since they do not require a prescription. They can relieve musculoskeletal and arthritis pain in the short term and work best for mild pain. They are available in various forms, such as skin patches, skin creams, gels, and pills.

  • Skin patches and creams

The over-the-counter creams and patches generally have fewer side effects than pills. They contain capsaicin, which is an extract of chili peppers; camphor, an extract of camphor wood; menthol, an extract of corn mint or peppermint, and lidocaine. As a rule of thumb, these patches and creams should be applied only in the arthritic area and are as effective as the pills.

  • Pills

Here we will discuss NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil; and acetaminophen such as Tylenol. They are used to relieve minor to moderate pain.

NSAIDs work by blocking COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes, which are responsible for swelling and pain. However, the enzymes also prevent blood clotting and maintain a healthy stomach lining.

As such, overuse of the drugs may impede these functions and lead to complications such as ulcers, intestinal bleeding, constipation, diarrhea, or heartburn. The risk of stroke, heart failure,and heart attack increases with continued use of NSAIDs. There is also an increased risk of kidney failure and high blood pressure with prolonged use.

On the other hand, acetaminophen works by impairing the brain’s processing of pain signals. It was recently recommended to be used only when the patient cannot use NSAIDs. As with many analgesics or painkillers, acetaminophen’s prolonged or over-dosage has side effects, and in this case, may cause liver damage. It is therefore recommended to use less than 3000 milligrams per day of acetaminophen.

Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can also be purchased over the counter and have been found to ease mild to moderate arthritis pain. They have few to none side effects.

Prescription Arthritis Pain Relief Medication

These include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, etodolac, and piroxicam. They have similar side effects as over-the-counter NSAIDs with prolonged use, such as heart attack, kidney failure, stomach irritation, and intestinal bleeding. However, creams may have less potential for triggering the side effects than pills. Since prescription NSAIDs are more potent than over-the-counter ones, they can be used to treat moderate to chronic arthritis pain.

Opioids may also be prescribed in exceptional cases to patients with severe pain. Opioids are commonly referred to as narcotics and are extracted from naturally occurring as well as synthesized opiates. Due to their potency, opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, and morphine should only be prescribed to patients with severe pain since they are highly effective. However, as with other drugs, they have several side effects, including:

  • Drowsiness – as such, it is advisable for one to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while on these drugs
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Itching
  • Drug tolerance – this would mean that patients will require higher doses of the drug in subsequent prescriptions
  • Addiction – This is primarily a greater risk for people who had recovered from drug addiction before

Injections may also be prescribed to relieve arthritis pain. These are mostly administered directly to the joint affected. They may be steroids such as corticosteroids, which relieve pain and reduce inflammation, or hyaluronic acid injection, which acts as a lubricant for the joint, easing motion. The relief produced by both injections is not permanent and may necessitate several rounds of administering over months or weeks.

Non-Drug Interventions

There are various ways that arthritis pain can be managed and even eradicated that do not involve taking arthritis pain relief medication. This implies that the methods are mostly without side effects and add overall health and mental wellness. They include:

  • Weight loss and management

In many cases, excess body weight adds undue pressure to the joints leading to pain or stiffness. It is advisable to sustain a healthy body weight by exercising or/and proper dietary intake.

  • Exercise

Exercise has the added advantage of easing pain more directly during low-impact movement of the joints. This can include activities such as stretching, walking, swimming, and yoga.  However, one should be careful not to overexert the body during exercise, which will exacerbate the arthritis pain and swelling.

  • Adjusting body posture

A good body posture can accentuate correct joint and bone alignment, alleviating a lot of the pain resulting from poor body posture. Sitting while your back is hunched over a desk for long hours, standing with a flat back, standing on one leg, and other poor body postures should be avoided as they create pressure on joints and muscles. Walking aids and knee braces can also be used to add extra support in cases where joints are not correctly aligned.

  • Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle

It is essential to ensure that your body is occasionally active as the affected joints and muscles will be relieved of pressure and therefore easing pain.

  • Using heat and cold compresses

Heat massages can be used to relieve mild arthritic pain, but it is important to be careful when using heat pads to avoid skin burns. Cold compresses can also be used, especially after exercise, and both may improve motion and ease the pain.

  • Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy is the best arthritis pain relief medication. However, it should be conducted by qualified professionals who may offer specific exercises or a wide range of arthritis pain relief medication, including electrotherapy, hydrotherapy, massages, and walking aids.

Physiotherapy may be undertaken alongside prescribed medication but is also effective on its own. A physiotherapist is an integral part of the healing process as they offer advice and counseling and guide other interventions such as exercises and body posture, giving broader-based support. Physiotherapy will have the following benefits for a person who has arthritis:

  • It will help improve the joint’s strength and ability to support the body’s weight
  • It enhances the flexibility of the body
  • It restores the functionality of the affected joint
  • It maintains physical fitness

Surgical Treatment

For patients with advanced chronic arthritis pain, relief may only be achieved after performing corrective surgery on the affected area. This option should be pursued if other methods have failed to yield the desired effect.


When treating arthritis pain, it is essential to avoid smoking as it has a negative effect on connective tissue. It is also crucial to note that there is a risk of under-treating or over-treating arthritis. Therefore it is significant to work closely with your doctor and professional physiotherapist to ensure this does not happen.

Maintain a healthy and positive outlook as mental fitness plays a crucial role in the recovery process by consistently doing small positive tasks such as exercise and meditation. Try not to focus on the pain, but rather focus on each step you take towards liberating yourself!



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