Best Pain Reliever

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Best Pain Reliever
Review and Pain Reliever Chart

best pain reliever

What is the Best Pain Reliever for the Job?

In January of 2009 I did an article on Pain Relief. Nearly two years later, this article on pain relief continues to grow in traffic. While this particular web page isn’t getting thousands of visitors a day, its popularity and response has indicated to me that hundreds of thousands of people every day are looking for ways to relieve a variety of different aches and pains. While I am certainly no expert on how to pain relievers, I’ve had enough experience with different types of pains, to know what the best pain reliever is for various maladies.  Some of the bad ones? Foot pain, gout, tooth ache pains, sinus headaches, migraine headaches, ruptured discs in the neck, lower back pain, knee and joint paint, muscle aches, sciatica nerve pain – I’ve had them all. Granted, I’ve not suffered through everything and knock on wood, I sure hope I don’t ever have a Kidney Stone. I’ve heard those are devastating. For me, sinus/migraine headaches and sciatica pain in the legs are the most common. I’ve only had two cases of gout and believe me, it is devastating.
So, based on the response to my previous article, I thought it would be useful to go into some details on specific pains and what pain relievers and treatments work best. I’ve gone into some specifics on a few of the common pains I’ve suffered through and explained what works best for me. Below everything, I’ve included a chart for rating the severity of the pain, which pain medication works best and how much relief that pain medication provides in the form of a percentage. Note, that the rating of pain may not be the same for everybody. Also, the severity of the pain can range dramatically. Because we are all built so differently, choosing the best pain reliever for the job is a very personal matter.

Best Pain Reliever for Sore Leg Muscles

Aleve is what works best for me.
This is not the same as achy legs from flu, viruses or standing too long. Sore leg muscles are generally the result of exercise. Climbing up and down a ladder, for instance, will give you sore leg muscles better than anything. For this kind of pain, Advil (Ibuprofen) gives the quickest relief, though I prefer Aleve because it lasts longer. My favorite in order: Aleve, Advil, Tylenol and Aspirin. Tip: Avoid the temptation to be sedentary when your leg muscles are extremely sore from exercise. You gotta keep moving. Try short walks, relaxed stretching and avoid sitting in one place too long. The Take an Aleve every 8-12 hours. By the third one you’ll feel better. Take two at a time, if you’re desperate, but beware that Aleve can be harmful on the stomach.

Best Pain Reliever for Back

Lower Back pain is one of the trickiest, most time consuming ailments to find relief for. Upon first suffering a lower back strain or injury. Partly, because we’re treating stiff muscles which are sometimes accompanied with sciatic nerve pain. Upon first injuring or straining my back, the pain can be pretty severe and about the only way to get quick relief is to take 3 or 4 Over-the-Counter, 200MG (OTC) Advil or ibuprofen tablets. Reduce dosage to 2 tablets every 4 hours after that to avoid upset stomach. Prescription strength ibuprofen is usually 800-1200MG, so take with your own discretion. Personally, I use Aleve because it is easier on my sensitive stomach and last longer, usually 8-12 hours. The only long-term way to relieve lower back pain is with ice and therapy. Resist the temptation to put heat on a strained back. Within the first 24 hours, use ice only and frequently. After 24 hours, you can alternate the ice with very brief periods of heating pad use. After 2-3 days, continue ice and heat therapy along with lots of good back and leg stretching. There are hundreds of good stretching exercises you can find online for helping with relieving chronic lower back pain.

Sciatic Nerve Treatment

Sciatic nerve pain is often the result of lower back injuries. My own sciatic nerve pain usually flairs up in the front and back of my legs after a lower back strain. Sciatica is usually the result of inflamed discs in our back and neck pressing on our nerves. Some people also complain about Sciatic Knee Pain. Aleve and Advil both help, but one thing that works best for me is, Tylenol. Tylenol seems to work well for me with nerve pains, overall. Once again, avoid the temptation to put heat on your back to treat sciatic pain. Ice is the way to go. You want to deaden the pain, not inflame it.

Sinus Headache Pain Relief

Sinus Headache pain can be severe. Aleve is the one pain relief medication that consistently works on my sinus headaches, which usually start around 2 – 4AM in the morning and can last up to 12-20 hours afterwards. It starts with a dull ache around my skull, then ends up as a high-pressure pain beneath my right eye. The one remedy that nearly always gives me 80-90% relief is to take two things: 1 Aleve and 1 Sudafed. 2 Hours later, I’m nearly 100%. Whether it’s sinus pain or a migraine, Aleve has always been the best pain reliever for me.

Now to Relieve Migraine Headache Pain

Migraine headaches can be confused with Sinus Headaches. Sometimes, I’m not so sure they are inter-related in some way and I often wonder if my own severe sinus headaches are not accompanied by migraines. I want to be careful about recommending the same treatment of 1 Aleve + 1 Sudafed, because some people have told me Sudafed makes them worse. Other migraine sufferers have reported that Sudafed helps relieve the pain. If you regularly suffer debilitating migraines there is prescription medicine out there called Triptan that supposedly knocks them right out. Otherwise, Aleve is what works best for me.

Relieve Foot Pain

Foot pain from running, injury or bad shoes is usually best relieved with Anti Inflammatory medications like Aleve or Advil. Use ice if you feel your foot pain is caused by injury or strain. This is different than Gout which is explained below.

Gout Pain Relief

Almost nothing in your medicine cupboard will bring Gout Pain Relief. I’ve had Gout only twice in my life, but the pain is both excruciating and debilitating. Gout is a form of arthritis and the result of high uric acid which form into painful crystals that settle in your joints; usually your foot and toe, but some people can get it in the their knee and finger joints as well. For me, Gout begins as a slight toe ache. Over the course of a few hours it develops into a swelling, excruciating pain. It’s nearly impossible to walk and the surface of the swollen, surrounding skin becomes so sore, even putting a sock on will bring tears to your eyes. The only thing that has really ever worked for me is a prescription NSAID called, Indomethacin. Usually, by the 2nd or 3rd dose, the pain is much better. But like Advil or Aleve, Indomethacin can really hurt your stomach over time. My doctor recommends taking them with Zantac to avoid stomach upset. If you can’t get to a doctor, you’ll need high dosages of Advil or Aleve to bring slight Gout pain relief. Neither ice, nor heat does any good at all and could even make it worse. It’s doubtful, you’ll even try those remedies because Gout pain is so severe that you wouldn’t think of touching in it.

Stomach Ache Remedies

If you’re suffering from a stomach ache due to a virus or something you ate, the last thing you would probably want to do is take Asprin, Aleve, Advil or other brands of Anti Inflammatory pain killers. If you really want something for the pain, try Tylenol. Sometimes stomach cramps can be caused by too little acid or too much acid in the system. For too little acid, try some vinegar or pickle juice. Too much acid, use antacids. Dehyrdation can also cause stomach pain. Viruses usually just have to run their course. In most cases, stomach ache remedies don’t involve pain killers.

Relieve Hip Pain

I use to have chronic hip pain from running and jogging every day. Like all muscle related pains, the best pain relief was either Advil or Aleve.

Neck Disc Injury Pain Relief

This was the mother of all pains for me. The most severe or excruciating pain is the one that you never get even a moment’s relief from. The only thing that worked for my neck disc injury was a prescription Codine/Tylenol along with the Aleve. That stuff is addictive so my doctor wouldn’t refill it after just 2 weeks use. Overall, however, Aleve was probably the best pain reliever to take the edge off the inflammation.

Aching Knees

Tylenol works great on aching knees. When your knees ache from over-use or stress, an NSAID like Advil or Aleve is probably more effective. However, for general aching knees caused from fatigue, chills or sickness, Tylenol really helps.

Relief for Joint Pain

For me, aching joints from cold weather, sickness or fatigue are best treated with a couple of Tylenol. If your joints ache from working them too hard, then NSAID medications like Aleve or Advil will be more effective. Tylenol seems to work best for general nerve pain and aches, chills, restlessness and pains caused from flu, virus or fatigue. When I am interested in relieving joint pain or nerve pain, I reach for the Tylenol. The only disadvantage? It only lasts 4-5 hours.

Natural Pain Relief

I’ve never found natural pain killer to effectively help with severe pain. Aloe Vera is soothing, but it’s not going to help with an excruciating neck, back disc injury. Ice is best natural remedy there is for numbing and reducing pain.

Best Pain Reliever by Type of Pain

Pain Pain Rating Pain Reliever Pain Relief
Lower Back Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Sore Leg Muscles Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Foot Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 50%
Gout Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 30%
Sinus Headache Moderate-to-Severe Aleve + Sudafed 80%
Migraine Headache Moderate-to-Severe Aleve (Sudafed) 70%
Aching Knees Moderate Tylenol 80%
Chills, Aches, Fever Moderate-to-Severe Tylenol 70%
Neck Injury Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 50%
Hip Pain Mild-to-Severe Advil or Aleve 60%
Nerve Pain Mild-to-Excruciating Tylenol 75%
Tooth Ache Mild-to-Severe Tylenol 70%
Sciatic Nerve Pain Mild-to-Severe Aleve or Tylenol 60%
Kidney Stone Pain Moderate-to-Excruciating Advil or Aleve 50%
Ruptured Disk Pain Severe-to-Excruciating Advil and Tylenol 50%



  1. Chronic Pain facts October 19, 2010
  2. Rob October 20, 2010
  3. Amy December 4, 2011
  4. Rob December 8, 2011
  5. Peter Piper December 28, 2015

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