Advertisement

How does acetaminophen relieve arthritis pain?

Matthew F. McCarty, MD
Anesthesiology

We are not sure. Acetaminophen or Tylenol is great for headache, pain and fever reduction but does very little for inflammation. Tylenol falls under a broad category called no opioid analgesics. Other drugs included in this subclass include aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, Naprosyn and Celebrex. More is known about how these other drugs work. They inhibit prostaglandin formation by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclooxygenase and they work throughout the body. Prostaglandins serve protective functions but they can also produce pain, inflammation and fever. Tylenol seems to block prostaglandin production in the brain and spinal cord. This is why Tylenol works great on a headache but not so well in bringing down swelling in a sprained ankle.

 

Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Acetaminophen is primarily an analgesic medication that dulls the sensation of pain, although it probably reduces fever through an anti-inflammatory mechanism. Acetaminophen does not help underlying inflammation in joints, but it can be a potent analgesic. It is generally well tolerated. No medication is without side effects, and acetaminophen is no exception. Only take acetaminophen as directed on the package.
The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

More About this Book

The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

According to conventional wisdom, arthritis pain is an inevitable part of aging. Not so, says Dr. Grant Cooper in this practical, accessible guide. For those who do develop osteoarthritic conditions,...

Continue Learning about Acetaminophen

How can an acetaminophen overdose in children be prevented?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Your child is at risk of experiencing an overdose if you administer the adult formulation or the...
More Answers
Can I take acetaminophen when pregnant?
Dawn MarcusDawn Marcus
Although acetaminophen is generally less effective for treating headache than aspirin or nonster...
More Answers
What is Acetaminophen?
What is Acetaminophen?
Play It Safe When You Take Acetaminophen
Play It Safe When You Take Acetaminophen

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.