Medications & OTCS (Over-The-Counter Meds)
There are many over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications for arthritis pain sufferers that can be purchased without physicians’ prescriptions. Some are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – and as OTCs, they do not require a prescription. Users need to be aware of possible risk from long term use or product abuse, though, and consult their medical advisors before and during use.
The misuse of some of these OTC NSAIDs can cause blockage of an enzyme in the body that aids in the protection of the stomach lining and other areas. Misuse can lead to stomach ulcers and bleeding, and liver and kidney trouble. (The same drug abuse issues can result from prescription NSAIDs, too). Used the right way, these drugs can help with pain relief, inflammation and fever reduction, and blood clot prevention.
The most common OTC NSAIDs are ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin, & acetaminophen. Ibuprofen is the feature ingredient in Motrin, Advil & Nuprin. Naproxen is the feature ingredient of Aleve, Anaprox and Naprosyn. Aspirin, of course, is the feature ingredient of Bayer and others. Acetaminophen is the feature ingredient of Excedrin and Tylenol. Many folks think all of these names are interchangeable, however, there are wide differences in the results they have on your body. For instance, acetaminophen has no anti-inflammatory benefits and simply raises your pain tolerance level. Excess usage poses risk of liver damage, even death, especially for active drinkers (of alcoholic beverages). Naproxen offers anti-inflammatory benefits but starts to eat away at your stomach lining if taken several days in a row.
None of theses products are recommended for long term, or lifelong pain problems. The reason for this is because they are PAIN KILLERS, and not remedies. In fact, by masking the pain, they may be helping in the very short term by providing temporarily providing relief, but they are also disguising the fact that the problem is growing more severe by the day, week or month. Certainly pain killers have their place, but they are not recommended for any type of on-going treatment of any duration. The major brands all provide great temporary relief for temporary pain. But there is nothing temporary about arthritis.
It is understandable that many people experiencing pain and aching in a joint because of osteoarthritis reach for the aspirin or another conventional pain reliever. The problem is, these medications can be rough on your stomach, and they do nothing to slow the progress of your arthritis. Even the new COX-2 inhibitor drugs do not act to preserve the joint.
If your arthritis pain is mild and only affects on or two joints, you may find that a topical pain reliever or topical analgesic can be useful. Topical painkillers are available as creams, salves or gels. The active ingredients of topical painkillers include:
Capsaicin is found naturally in hot peppers, and in drug stores is found under the brand names of Capzasin-P, Zostrix, and other drugs. Capsaicin works by blocking the transmission of a pain-relaying substance called substance P to the brain.
Camphor, eucalyptus oil and menthol are found in a variety of agents such as Arthricare, Eucalyptamint and Icy Hot amongst others. These substances are able to relieve pain by tricking the body to feel the coolness or heat of these agents.
Salicylates is a substance available in Aspercreme, BenGay, and Flexall. Salicylates work by decreasing pain and inflammation.
If not OTC Medications, then what…?
Many all-natural remedies and supplements have been found to actually reduce cartilage deterioration and even rebuild a patient’s lost cartilage. However, before adding any to your daily routine, check with your healthcare advisor, as supplements can cause adverse reactions and may not be right for your situation. Note that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration); i.e. do not need to be approved by them, and can include any of the following: plants, fats, proteins and animal organs and tissues as well as herbs, minerals and vitamins. So some supplements may be fine for arthritic patients; however some may not be. Note also that manufacturers may very well promote that their products work great, but they do not have to use standardized ingredients or recipes, disclose side effects that have been reported, nor prove that the products are indeed effective. Since supplements are not FDA approved they must be accompanied by a two-part disclaimer on the product label: that the statement has not been evaluated by FDA and that the product is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
We have devoted a complete page to the subject of All Natural Supplements, as frankly, these group of products make the most sense for most people. However, as in any unregulated field, the market is dotted with scams, false claims and fly by night solutions.