Over-the-counter pain relievers can help with your arthritis symptoms. "Over-the-counter" means you can buy these medicines without a prescription.
Most doctors recommend acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) first. It has fewer side effects than other drugs. Do not take more than 43 grams (43,000 mg) a day.
If your pain continues, your doctor may suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Types of NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
Taking acetaminophen or another pain pill before exercising is OK. But do not overdo the exercise because you have taken medicine.
Both NSAIDs and acetaminophen in high doses, or taken for a long time, can cause serious side effects. If you are taking pain relievers on most days, tell your doctor. You may need to be watched for side effects. Your doctor may want to monitor you with certain blood tests.
Capsaicin (Zostrix) is a skin cream that may help relieve pain. You may feel a warm, stinging sensation when you first apply the cream. This sensation goes away after a few days of use. Pain relief usually begins within 1 to 2 weeks.
NSAIDs in the form of skin cream are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Ask your doctor if these might be right for you.