Pain Relief: Acetaminophen and NSAIDs
These over-the-counter medications are considered the first line of attack for most neck and back pain. They are effective against pain caused by muscle and joint problems, such as muscle strains or osteoarthritis.
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is effective as a pain reliever, but will not improve inflammation, the source of neck pain due to conditions like arthritis of the joints of the vertebrae.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, like ibuprofen (such as Advil) and naproxen (such as Aleve) relieve pain and reduce swelling by inhibiting the body’s inflammatory response. However, side effects include gastric bleeding, stomach pain, prolonged clotting time, hypertension, and fluid retention.
Elderly individuals as well as those with kidney or heart problems must be monitored on a regular basis when taking NSAID pain medications.