unexpected harm, somone trying to remove the child proof safety cap from a bottle of prescription pills, MSM for joint pain, ease arthritis pain safely

People with chronic pain such as the joint pain of severe osteoarthritis are often faced with terrible trade-offs. To get relief from the inflammation and discomfort, they may have to rely on medications that will cause problems in the long term. No wonder so many people want to learn how to ease arthritis pain safely.

Can You Ease Arthritis Pain Safely?

Q. I want to know if there is anything I can take for arthritis pain that will not give me stomach ulcers, raise my blood pressure or lead to a heart attack. I used to take ibuprofen and then naproxen for osteoarthritis, but they resulted in ulcers.

Mobic didn’t work. Vioxx helped, but they took it off the market. I am now on diclofenac and take Nexium (40 mg) for GERD. Could the diclofenac be damaging my stomach without my knowing it?

A. Diclofenac can be irritating to the digestive tract. It can also increase the risk for hypertension and heart attacks (Varas-Lorenzo et al, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, June 2013). However, diclofenac is not the only option.


One prescription pain reliever that is often overlooked is the drug salsalate. It is related to aspirin but is less likely to cause stomach irritation. Salsalate may not reduce the chance of cardiovascular problems, but it doesn’t seem to increase the risk either (Hauser et al, JAMA Cardiology, July 1, 2016).  In addition, salsalate improves blood sugar control (Salastekar et al, Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism, Oct. 2017).

You can learn more about salsalate as well as home remedies for joint pain and inflammation from Graedons’ Guide to Alternatives for Arthritis. In just over 100 pages, it reviews the pros and cons of many arthritis relief medicines, including diclofenac and salsalate. It also covers anti-inflammatory foods and herbs that can be very helpful.

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  1. Patty

    I have suffered from Acid Reflux-GERD for years. I attempt to avoid acidic foods, alcohol, spices, garlic, etc., however I do still do have ties when I feel as though my esophagus is on Fire.

    A friend recently recommended LILY OF THE DESERT an Aloe Herbal Stomach Formula. It has had a profound effect on my acid. Twice daily and I am fine. Simply amazing.

  2. Mike
    Maple Valley, WA

    I have had great success using glucosamine/condroiton daily for many years. These help to rebuild joint cartilage, A newer product called UCII (undenatured collagen) has been helpful for many to rebuild missing collagen. The best pain reliever is Niacinamide, (a non flushing form of niacin) vitamin B3. For most people a dose of 1000mg three times a day will relieve all pain of arthritis in three to four weeks even if your joints are literally bone on bone. Some people find this dose to cause stomach upset or nausea. In that case just reduce the dose a bit until the problem goes away. One caveat-once the pain is gone you must keep taking it for life r the pain returns. I have been using it for more than 5 years now. I prefer to take two 500mg capsules instead of one 1000mg capsule as they are smaller and easier to swallow. If you don’t mind big capsules you can get 1500mg capsules which require only two per day but they are really big.

  3. Carl R


    I am a 50 years old female diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 2 years ago but have had symptoms for at least 20 years. I was taking methotrexate and Cymbalta, as well as infusions of Remicade, nothing worked for me. All my pain was from my waist down and certainly not something I can stand. The only treatment that has been successful has been the taking of RA herbal remedy I purchased from Best Health herbal centre. I now wake up every morning without pain. I have been pain-free period for more than 4 months. I have regular blood tests and do not experience any of the side effects from taking the herbal remedy. Thank God this works for me. I feel great!

  4. Barbara F

    I have arthritis. Although I am a Registered Nurse I do not like to take medication unless necessary. I have found that White Willow Bark works faster and has better pain control for anything than ASA or even Ibuprofen. That said, after almost ten years taking it I found it was beginning to irritate my stomach so I had to stop taking it for pain. I also do not like to take medication for acid reflux. I found that Tumeric works well for arthritis pain. I found that pickle juice or anything acidic helps with reflux (including lying on my left side. I hope that this is helpful to someone.

  5. Carol K

    Is salsalate okay for people like me who have acid reflux but am unable to take the heartburn meds because of side effects? I need to find something that won’t give me heartburn.

  6. Valerie
    Buffalo NY

    Just talked to a woman who uses apple cider vinegar on a cloth, places it on the painful spot and keeps it on the arthritic joint and warm for the night. She says it makes the arthritis pain go away.
    I tried it last night but couldn’t keep it in place long enough for a reliable test Im considering what kind of plastic to use to protect my bed from vinegar.

  7. Val
    Hillsborough, NC

    Information at drugs.com says “This medicine may cause life-threatening heart or circulation problems such as heart attack or stroke, especially if you use it long term. Do not use salsalate just before or after heart bypass surgery (coronary artery bypass graft, or CABG).

    Get emergency medical help if you have chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, slurred speech, or problems with vision or balance.

    This medicine may also cause serious effects on the stomach or intestines, including bleeding or perforation (forming of a hole). These conditions can be fatal and can occur without warning while you are taking salsalate, especially in older adults.

    Doesn’t sound very enticing.

  8. Jean
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Sleeping under an electric blanket does more for my arthritis than any medication. The heat works wonders on the joint pain.

  9. Corley
    High Point

    I too am fighting the pain battle with rheumatoid arthritis and have been through all the pain meds and stomach issues. Currently I am on Orenica. I was taking Enbrel and Humira. Fortunately I am eligible for Patient Assistance. Without assistance, there is no way I could afford any of those medications. My pain and stiffness has improved. Side effects are a big concern, but right now, relief outweighs the risks.

    I had to retire because my joint pain and fatigue were too great. I get additional relief from heat, ice, stretching, and gentle exercise. I started taking turmeric, ginger, and krill in combination. I noticed the most relief in my hands and lower back. My rheumatologist’s PA suggested this, and it really has helped me. I take it with food.

    If I have been on my feet gardening or shopping, at the end of the day I still need stronger pain meds. Tramadol and tizanidine when I go to bed provide the relief I need to sleep well. I use both carefully and hope Tramadol will continue to be available. Fighting pain is debilitating, depressing, and tiring.

  10. Eleanor
    Greenville, NC

    Has anyone mentioned CBD lotion for arthritis aches and pains? I recently bought some of this online, recommended by my yoga teacher. It really seems to work!

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