You will almost certainly already have tried different types of pain relief in the past, but if you have not tried regular painkillers then it is certainly worthwhile.

Paracetamol and Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are available over the counter and are most commonly used.

NSAIDs can cause acid reflux or heartburn and so are best taken with food. Your GP will usually want to prescribe an antacid such as omeprazole or lansoprazole if you are taking them long term.  You should check with your GP if you have a history of ulcers/ stomach problems, kidney problems, asthma, heart disease, diabetes or hypertension. They should not be taken if you are on warfarin and can interact with other medications. If you do take an NSAID, it should be taken at the lowest dose that is effective for the shortest time possible. The aim is to ease pain and inflammation with the least chance of developing side-effects. Some information on NSAIDs can be found here.

If these are ineffective, then it is worth discussing stronger pain relief medication with your GP. Naproxen is a stronger NSAID that some patients find helpful. Some people end up needing co-codamol which is paracetamol and codeine. Codeine is addictive so shouldn’t be taken unless needed and also has side effects of constipation, drowsiness and nausea and dizziness. You should take care not to mix with alcohol and shouldn’t drive until you know how they affect you.

Some people find reasonable relief from NSAID topical gels (e.g. Ibuleve) that they can rub onto the affected joint. These can be bought over the counter from the pharmacist.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are supplements that are commonly taken for arthritis. The evidence for these is mixed, although some studies have shown benefit with glucosamine sulphate at a dose of 1.5g daily, and there are few side-effects so it is unlikely to be harmful. There is little evidence for the use of chondroitin.

Capsaicin cream may be of benefit; the evidence for this is less clear with some studies showing a positive effect while others showed no improvement. It is unlikely to cause any harm.