Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers include:
Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Aspirin-Free Excedrin)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), includingibuprofen -- Motrin and Advil -- or naproxen -- Aleve and Naprosyn
Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs reduce fever and relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, but only NSAIDs can also reduce inflammation (swelling and irritation). Acetaminophen and NSAIDs also work differently. NSAIDs relieve pain by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that cause pain. Acetaminophen works on the parts of the brain that receive the "pain messages." NSAIDs are also available in a prescription strength that can be prescribed by your physician.
Topical pain relievers are also available without a doctor's prescription. These products include creams, lotions, or sprays that are applied to the skin in order to relieve pain from sore muscles and arthritis. Some examples of topical pain relievers include Aspercreme, Ben-Gay, Icy Hot, and Capzasin-P.