Pain Management Over-The-Counter (cont.)
Dr. Lee: How are over-the-counter NSAIDs different from NSAIDs that need prescriptions from the doctor?
In fact, many over-the-counter
NSAIDs have the same active ingredients as prescription NSAIDs. The difference
is in the amount of active ingredient contained in each tablet or capsule,
and in the dosing requirements (how often one has to take these per day).
Dr. Lee: Let me get back to the over-the-counter pain relievers. How is acetaminophen different from NSAIDs?
Dr. Shiel: Acetaminophen reduces pain and fever by acting on the brain. NSAIDs reduce pain and fever by reducing prostaglandin production and inflammation at the site of pain (ankle, knee, shoulder, etc.) Acetaminophen is generally considered easier on the stomach than NSAIDs.
Dr. Lee: How is aspirin different from the other NSAIDs like Aleve, Motrin or Advil?
Aspirin, Aleve, Advil/Motrin are
similar in reducing pain, fever and inflammation. But aspirin has
more prolonged anti-platelet effect than the other NSAIDs.
Dr. Lee: Bill, how does one go about choosing an OTC pain reliever?
Dr. Shiel: Different people respond differently to pain relievers. Therefore, choosing the right pain reliever can be somewhat of a trial and error process. I recommend that patients use the pain reliever that has worked for them in the past. This will increase the likelihood of effectiveness and decrease the risk of any side effects.