Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Acetaminophen for Osteoarthritis
Acetaminophen is an analgesic, which
helps relieve pain. (Analgesics do not affect inflammation as nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, do.)
Doctors use acetaminophen to treat
mild to moderate pain caused by
If acetaminophen does not
relieve pain, or if joint tissue shows signs of inflammation, NSAIDs may be
Regular use of acetaminophen can
provide relief of mild to moderate pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Acetaminophen does not appear to work quite as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs for osteoarthritis. But it is often tried first, because for many people it has less serious side effects than NSAIDs.footnote 1
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects.
(Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
Check the labels on all the other nonprescription and prescription medicines you take. Many medicines have acetaminophen. Do not take two or more medicines with acetaminophen in them unless your doctor told you to. Taking too much acetaminophen can be harmful. If you have questions about this, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Acetaminophen does not change the process of
cartilage breakdown that happens in
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Lozada CJ (2013). Treatment of osteoarthritis. In GS Firestein et al., eds., Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology 9th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1646–1659. Philadelphia: Saunders.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerStanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Current as ofFebruary 24, 2016
Current as of:
February 24, 2016
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
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