Managing Arthritis Pain with Medication An Overview

Managing Arthritis Pain with Medication An Overview

Finding Relief: Medications for Arthritis Pain


Living with arthritis can be challenging, but luckily, there are a variety of medications available to help manage the pain and inflammation associated with this condition. Whether your arthritis is caused by normal wear and tear or an inflammatory disease, there are over-the-counter and prescription medications that can provide relief. Let’s explore some of these options and how they can alleviate your symptoms.

Over-the-Counter Medications

When it comes to controlling arthritis pain, over-the-counter (OTC) medications can be quite effective. Some of the best OTC options are acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), which are commonly known by brand names like Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, Aleve, or Anacin.

Ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that help reduce pain and inflammation. However, if you prefer a topical solution, you can also find NSAIDs in gel form, such as diclofenac gel (Voltaren). Additionally, OTC creams containing salicylate, capsaicin, camphor, or menthol as the active ingredient can provide relief for arthritis pain.

While acetaminophen is often used for osteoarthritis, NSAIDs are commonly recommended for both inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis. However, it’s important to note that acetaminophen only offers limited help with inflammatory arthritis since it doesn’t control the disease or prevent joint damage.

To maximize the benefits, diclofenac gel and topical capsaicin can be used alongside oral medications to relieve pain. However, there is limited evidence supporting the use of topical salicylate, camphor, or menthol for osteoarthritis pain. For more information on these medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

How Long Will You Need Arthritis Meds?

The duration for which you’ll need arthritis medications depends on the frequency and intensity of your pain. If you experience osteoarthritis pain most of the time, these medications may need to be used regularly. However, if the pain is not continuous, you can stop taking them when you feel better.

In the case of inflammatory arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, lifelong treatment may be necessary. This type of arthritis typically requires not only NSAIDs but also disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate.

Prescription Medications

For stronger osteoarthritis pain, there are several prescription medications available. Tramadol and other opioids can be prescribed in these cases, including short-term treatments for inflammatory arthritis.

Tramadol may be recommended when a patient cannot take acetaminophen or NSAIDs, particularly for arthritis in the knee and hip. It may also be used in combination with other medications. Opioids, on the other hand, are considered second-line medications and are reserved for moderate to severe knee and hip osteoarthritis pain that hasn’t responded to other treatments. Although opioids have potential adverse effects, including the risk of addiction, they may be a safer option for elderly patients compared to NSAIDs, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

Another medication, duloxetine, primarily used as an antidepressant and nerve pain medication, can serve as a second-line agent for treating arthritis of the knee. It can also be used as an add-on medication in combination with other treatments.

Most of these prescription medications come in pill form, while fentanyl (Duragesic), an opioid, is administered through a patch on the skin. However, it’s important to note that the patch is not routinely used to manage arthritis pain.

rheumatoid arthritis


Living with arthritis doesn’t have to mean enduring constant pain and discomfort. With the wide range of over-the-counter and prescription medications available, relief is within reach. Whether you’re managing osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis, consult with your doctor or pharmacist to find the best treatment plan for you.

By effectively managing arthritis pain, you can improve your quality of life and continue doing the things you love. Remember, everyone’s experience with arthritis is unique, so finding the right medication or combination of medications may take some trial and error. With patience and persistence, you can find the solution that works best for you. Don’t let arthritis slow you down – take control of your pain and live life to the fullest!

Source: Arthritis Foundation