Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful in relieving symptoms of osteoarthritis, as confirmed by Mayo Clinic. Certain topical medications, including capsaicin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and counterirritants, may also be effective, according to WebMD.
Acetaminophen is often effective in relieving mild to moderate pain in osteoarthritis patients, but it does not reduce inflammation, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Patients should not take more than the recommended dosage as it may lead to liver damage. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, can relieve both pain and inflammation, and patients can get stronger medications by prescription. Side effects may include upset stomach, bleeding problems, kidney and liver damage, cardiovascular problems and ringing in the ears. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in topical form tend to have fewer side effects. Patients may also wish to receive cortisone injections for pain relief, but this treatment may only be used a limited number of times as it may cause further damage.
Capsaicin, the burning substance in hot peppers, works by affecting the body processes involved in the transmission of pain signals, and it comes in a topical cream or gel, as stated by WebMD. Patients may also use counterirritants containing ingredients such as menthol, eucalyptus and camphor for pain relief. These topical medications should be rubbed onto the affected joints.