Arthritis is a widespread condition that affects millions of people worldwide, causing pain and discomfort that can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Fortunately, there are various medications available to help manage arthritis pain and improve daily functioning.
The options might seem overwhelming, though. Here, the Arthritis Foundation offers some suggestions for meds that can be purchased at a local drug store or filled with a doctor’s prescription, whether your pain is caused by normal wear and tear (osteoarthritis) or inflammatory disease.
Some of the best over-the-counter (OTC) medications for controlling arthritis pain are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and acetylsalicyclic acid (aspirin), better known by brand names like Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Aleve or Anacin.
Ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
While those are pills, it’s also possible to get an NSAID in topical form, like diclofenac gel (Voltaren). Other OTC creams for arthritis contain salicylate, capsaicin, camphor or menthol as the active ingredient.
While acetaminophen (Tylenol) is often used to treat osteoarthritis, NSAIDs are typically used for both inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis, according to the foundation.
Acetaminophen offers only limited help with inflammatory arthritis because it doesn’t control the disease or prevent joint damage, the foundation says.
Diclofenac gel and topical capsaicin might also be used in combination with oral medications to relieve pain. Only limited evidence supports using topical salicylate, camphor or menthol to treat osteoarthritis pain.
A doctor or pharmacist can offer more information on these medications.
- Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
- DMARDs are primarily used for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune forms of the disease.
- They target the underlying immune system dysfunction to slow down joint damage.
- Biologics are a class of drugs designed to target specific proteins involved in the immune response.
- They are often used when other medications are ineffective.
- Biologics like adalimumab and etanercept have revolutionized rheumatoid arthritis treatment.
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can provide quick relief from arthritis symptoms.
- They are often used as short-term solutions to manage flare-ups.
- Long-term use may have side effects, so their usage is carefully monitored.
Choosing the Right Medication
The choice of arthritis medication depends on several factors, including the type of arthritis, the severity of symptoms, and