Are NSAIDs more effective than acetaminophen for joint pain?

Scott D. Martin, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Anaprox), and several others may be more effective in treating knee and hip problems than acetaminophen (Tylenol and other brands), particularly during sudden flare-ups of pain, because they are superior at reducing inflammation. There are also a number of prescription NSAIDs such as nabumetone (Relafen) and oxaprozin (Daypro). Stay within recommended dosages. Regular use of NSAIDs can produce gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers, often without warning. Combining acetaminophen with a smaller amount of an NSAID may provide equivalent pain relief with a reduction in side effects. You can also ask your doctor about taking a proton-pump inhibitor such as esomeprazole (Nexium) or lansoprazole (Prevacid) to reduce the risk of gastric bleeding and ulcers.

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