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7 Best Over The Counter Pain Relievers

over the counter painkillers

Most people know over-the-counter Relievers like Paracetamol (acetaminophen) or Ibuprofen that they can get at a pharmacy when experiencing mild to moderate pain. Still, few know about effective alternatives such as low dose aspirin, lidocaine patches, or muscle relaxants.

When experiencing pain, that unpleasant feeling commonly associated with discomfort, illness, or injury, you might want to know your pain relief options without a doctor visit.

Here is a comprehensive list of the 7 most common counter Relievers to help you deal with pain in various presentations.

Working Mechanism of Relievers on The Body

Relievers are Non steroidal anti inflammatory (NSAID)drugs. Pain killers work by blocking the COX enzymes. COX enzymes make other chemicals that create pain sensation and swelling in the body. These chemicals are known as Prostaglandins. Relievers start working from the brain and spinal cord. It blocks the chemicals that cause pain and solves the pain issues.

1. Ibuprofen


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can deal with a wide variety of pains - from

  • Headaches
  • Menstrual pains
  • Bone and joint pain in arthritis
  • While experiencing a cold or the flu.

Ibuprofen has anti-inflammatory properties as it reduces hormones in the human body that cause pain and swelling. It can be taken orally for systemic effects, such as toothaches, period pains, and migraines, or you could apply an ibuprofen gel to the affected area for joint or back pains.

You should notice an effect after 20-30 minutes after taking Ibuprofen. The usual dose is 200mg, three times a day for an adult.

Over the counter, Ibuprofen is available that can be useful for you to treat it positively. As per research, Nurofen plus is one of the strongest Ibuprofen medicines. There are other medications also that will help you heal.

Ibuprofen is not indicated for pregnant women, especially in pregnancies over 30 weeks, as it can affect the baby’s kidneys and circulation. Moreover, if taken early in pregnancy, it could lead to a miscarriage. Mothers usually use Ibuprofen when breastfeeding; they need to ensure not to take it throughout the pregnancy or when trying to get pregnant without talking to a healthcare professional.

2. Paracetamol (Acetaminophen)


Paracetamol is a well-known Relievers and antipyretic that is recommended in

  • colds
  • Flues
  • reduce fever symptoms
  • everyday aches and pains.

Unlike Ibuprofen, Paracetamol is the Relievers of choice in pregnancy and breastfeeding, as it is safe for both mother and baby.

It comes in different pharmaceutical forms – tablets, capsules, and syrups and the adult recommended dose is a maximum of 4g per day, with at least 4 hours between doses, and this dose should be reduced when used in children.

Paracetamol can be crushed but carefully. There are possibilities of losing the medicine particles while destroying them. You can have Paracetamol and other variations too.

It reduces pain symptoms within an hour of its administration. Moreover, it could work better than Ibuprofen for headaches and stomach aches, but it does not have an NSAID’s anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Aspirin


Aspirin is like Ibuprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that reduces

  • Pain
  • Inflammation

For such symptoms, the dose is a maximum of 600 mg four times a day after a meal. Aspirin is also used at a lower dose of 75 mg daily to reduce the risk and prevent stroke and heart attack, but this lower dose does not ensure pain relief. If used for menstrual pain, it could cause heavy bleeding.

Aspirin is not indicated for patients suffering from heartburn or stomach ulcers, patients over 60 or under 16, or those taking blood-thinning medications.

Aspirin is also used in babies. These baby Aspirin can be used to prevent blood clots in babies. It is only available in low dosage.

4. Co-codamol

Co-codamol is usually used for pain relief, mainly when other Relievers haven’t worked. It is not indicated in children under 12 years old, and it should not be taken for more than 3 days unless stated otherwise.

Moreover, as it already contains Paracetamol, patients should not take it with other Paracetamol formulations. Common symptoms include constipation, nausea and vomiting, and dizziness.

You can use a combination of three medications with Co-codamol known as Naproxen and Diazepam. These three medications work differently. When these medications are taken together, it works more effectively.

5. Naproxen


Naproxen 220g is another NSAID available over the counter indicated in pain relief for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is instrumental in treating.

  • Joint stiffness
  • Arthritis pain
  • Discomfort during gout attacks

Still, it also has antipyretic properties for treating fever and other pain and aches during a cold.

Naproxen OTC is available to patients between 12 and 65 years old, and the maximum dose recommended without a prescription from a healthcare professional is 220 mg every 12 hours. It is particularly contraindicated in the 3rd-trimester pregnancies as it could cause heart malformations for the developing fetus.

You can consume Naproxen and Paracetamol together to treat pain issues. There are fewer interactions between these two medications.

6. Diclofenac Gel

Diclofenac Gel

Diclofenac is available OTC as a pain relief gel, intended for topical use in treating

  • local pain
  • Aches
  • Pulled muscles aches
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis.

It can reduce inflammation and pain locally in the joints, such as the knees, wrists, elbows, or other body parts, such as the feet, neck, and back. Such topical formulations are absorbed through the skin and act locally rather than being absorbed systemically.

They provide a reservoir of drugs locally for sustained pain relief throughout the day. Diclofenac gel is not indicated in children under 14 years old, and for an optimal effect, it should be applied to the skin by rubbing gently 3 to 4 times a day.

7. Lidocaine cream

Lidocaine is an anaesthetic that can cause loss of sensation at a local level, and due to its properties, it is present in many skin numbing creams. Whether you want to reduce pain from a piercing or tattoo, the scratching sensation caused by an allergic reaction, or relieve pain caused by a local injury, such an anaesthetic cream containing lidocaine can be helpful.

It can also be used before small medical interventions to reduce discomfort, as the patient will not be receiving pain signals.

One of the most common side effects of one of the Relievers listed above is the gastrointestinal disturbance, including constipation, heartburn, and increased risks of stomach ulcers. Therefore, having antacid medications on hand while taking pain relief can prevent the worsening of such symptoms.

Which is a better pain reliever for older people?
Pain relievers are the best to tackle the issues you face in day to day life. Most older people are suggested to consume Acetaminophen (Tylenol) as a pain reliever. It can be used daily or frequently only after the doctor's advice. You should not exceed more than 3000mg per day. Overdosing of Tylenol can lead to severe effects on your body.
What are Non- prescription pain relievers?
Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), Naproxen (Aleve) and Aspirin. These are non-prescription medicines. These medicines work as effectively as prescribed medications. But for that, have a word with your healthcare provider.
What are the long term pain medications?
No medication is safer for a longer duration. Having any medicine for a long time can severely affect your body. Drugs such as Paracetamol can be used on a long term basis but only when required. It is the safest pain medicine that can be used for adults. Paracetamol should not be overdosed or should be taken more than the dosage suggested.


Relievers have their way of treating pain sensation and swelling. Every person is facing one or the other pain-related issues, and these 7 medications can help you get better. Once you consume pain-relieving medications, then you get relaxed. The sensation of pain gets blocked and starts reducing, a soothing effect. Over-the-counter medications can be readily available, but you have to take the prescription from the healthcare provider for a safer side.