Best Over The Counter Medications For Neck Pain

Our pharmacist answers the latest question regarding the best over the counter medications for neck pain.

Sep 27, 2017

Eric asked

I have a dislocated collar bone and it hurts from time to time. What would be the best pain med?


There are a variety of pain medications available over the counter that might be beneficial for the type of pain you are experiencing. There are 3 main drugs that both doctors and pharmacists typically recommend. They are:

  • Tylenol (Acetaminophen)
  • Advil/Motrin (Ibuprofen)
  • Aleve (Naproxen)

The best choice of medicine depends on many different factors so it would be good to talk to a health care professional about your options and possible drug interactions with other medications you are taking. I will briefly describe the medications I have listed here:

Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is typically the safest choice of medicine as long as you stay under a total daily dose of about 3000 mg. It does not have many drug interactions and is typically well tolerated. The usual dose is 500 mg every four to six hours as needed. It unfortunately does not have any anti-inflammatory properties.

Advil/Motrin (Ibuprofen) is known as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Depending on the causative reason for your pain, it may be the most effective option. It has good anti-inflammatory properties that may relieve pain more than Tylenol. It does have more drug interactions and can have more side effects (stomach problems, possible cardiac issues). The typical dose ranges anywhere from 200-800 mg every four to six hours as needed. Most people take 400-600mg per dose.

Aleve (Naproxen) is another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine that is similar to ibuprofen. It is longer lasting (can be taken every 8-12 hours) and is associated with lower long term cardiac issues. Like ibuprofen, it does have its share of side effects as well.

In addition to over the counter medications taken by mouth, there are a variety of over the counter topical creams that my be beneficial such as well such as Bengay or IcyHot.

Again, there are many factors that play into picking the best medication for your type of pain and its very important to find out what is causing your pain. Even though you know you have a dislocated collar bone, they may be some nerve damage there as well as well as some inflammation. Most over the counter medications don't do well with nerve type pain.

The most general recommendation is to go with Tylenol products since I don't know what other medications you are taking that or your medical history. Drugs like naproxen and ibuprofen may work better, but I do recommend just quickly chatting with a health care professional to make sure they are OK to use.

In my experience, the pain with dislocations can be generally mild to severe. Many times, patient require pain medications that is a little bit stronger and are available by prescription only.

Ready for a more personal experience with your meds?