For pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, some over-the-counter (OTC) medications are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), topical creams and rubs, and pain medicines. Certain supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, may also be helpful for arthritis, according to the National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.
Over-the-counter or non-prescribed medications can treat the symptoms of arthritis, such as joint pain, inflammation and stiffness. Some typical OTC medications used for joint pain are acetaminophen and aspirin. Although these medications may be safe when taken as directed, some people may experience certain side effects. The side effects of aspirin are stomach problems and possible allergic reactions. Moreover, aspirin may have an adverse effect if patients have stomach ulcers, notes WebMD. Taking excessive amounts of acetaminophen or taking it in combination with alcoholic beverages can lead to liver issues.
For relief of joint inflammation associated with arthritis, NSAIDs are useful medications. Some OTC products, which are NSAIDs, are ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. However, these medicines can have side effects, including headaches, gastrointestinal bleeding and abdominal issues. There may also be drug interactions with blood thinners and diuretics.
Topical creams that contain capsaicin, menthol, or salicylates may relieve joint pain, states Mayo Clinic. Salicylates are OTC products that have the same compound as aspirin. Patients who are allergic to aspirin should avoid using this topical cream.