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Pain Management - Over the Counter Medications


Over the counter medications can be an important component of a multi modal pain management strategy.  Whether the pain is acute from a recent injury or surgery or it’s from a chronic condition, the medications at your local pharmacy are often extremely helpful.

There are three groups of medications that I recommend and a combination of these three is remarkably helpful even in very painful joints.  


1. Anti inflammatories 

This includes ibuprofen, naprosyn and a long list of other medications that are available with a prescription.  These medications often referred to as NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs), work at the site of inflammation are helpful both in pain relief as well as with reduction the inflammation itself.  My personal preference is for naprosyn as it lasts longer and is only taken twice a day but everyone responds to these differently.  Some patients find ibuprofen better while others find the prescription NSAIDs better.  There is no right or wrong answer, if there’s an NSAID that has worked for you in the past, I would start with that medication.  


2. Acetaminophen (tylenol) 

Acetaminophen is a painkiller that works centrally (meaning on the brain) to reduce pain.  Tylenol can be used in combination with anti inflammatories.  I often recommend Tylenol arthritis which is the same medication in a time release formulation so that it lasts longer.  T


3.  Topical Analgesics 

Every pharmacy has a whole section of creams, ointments and patches.  This includes things like biofreeze, capsaicin ointment, salon pas and icy hot.  Given the relatively localized pain of many problems in the hand and wrist area, many patient’s find these highly effective for pain relief.

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