There are several over-the-counter medications that patients can take for arthritis, including aspirin, Alleve, Motrin, Advil and Tylenol. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most popular drugs for treating arthritis pain, according to Healthline. Categories of these drugs include ibuprofen, which is in Motrin and Advil; naproxen, which is in Alleve; and aspirin. Tylenol's active ingredient is acetaminophen, which can reduce the feeling of pain, but unlike the others, it does not reduce swelling and inflammation.
There are possible side effects to all these medications. Patients should not take aspirin if they have any kind of bleeding problems or ulcers or if they are scheduled to undergo surgery. It can also cause excessive bleeding and other allergic reactions, according to WebMD.
Acetaminophen, or Tylenol, has fewer side effects if it is taken as directed, but taking too much or for too long can result in liver damage. Patients should also avoid taking Tylenol with more than one or two drinks of alcohol, as WebMD advises.
The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Alleve, Motrin and Advil, may cause abdominal cramping, indigestion and heartburn, according to WebMD. Individuals should avoid these drugs if they have heart, kidney or liver disease and if they have any history of stomach problems. Some drugs are simply labelled "non-aspirin" and may contain acetaminophen, ibuprofen or a mixture of drugs, which makes reading the labels important.