The Best Medicines for a Swollen Part of the Body

Swollen joints are often the result of an inflammatory condition. Chronic swelling, stiffness and mobility are apparent in more than 100 types of arthritis. The disease limits nearly 19 million adults in the U.S. and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports it is the most common cause of disability 1. Medications to relieve swollen parts of the body can improve the quality of life among affected people.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are the most prescribed medications for conditions such as arthritis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 24. Ibuprofen was one of the original NSAIDs, according to Spine-health. Like other NSAIDs, ibuprofen works by interfering with inflammatory hormones. People who are attracted to non-prescription medications may find it is the best medication for swelling. People with active ulcers or stomach sensitivity, however, should avoid it. In addition, those who take blood pressure medications and diuretics should consult a doctor for approval, as it can interfere with some drugs.


Aspirin is a familiar NSAID, which the Aspirin Foundation notes is the most versatile and effective medication on pharmacy shelves 3. With a history that dates back centuries, people with swollen parts of the body often depend on aspirin to ease inflammation and limit pain. Unlike ibuprofen, aspirin is not linked to kidney damage, and may therefore be the best option for those with existing kidney problems.

COX-2 Inhibitors

COX-2 inhibitors are a newer class of NSAIDs, which are available by prescription. They are as effective as aspirin and ibuprofen, however, they do not block certain enzymes in the body that protect the lining of the stomach. As a result, the drugs provide inflammatory and pain relief without the adverse effects on the stomach. They are also generally safe for those who take blood-thinning medications and may be the best option for people who cannot take ibuprofen or aspirin.