Are there any studies on the best over-the-counter painkillers?
Experience of pain is highly subjective so it is difficult to say which are the best painkillers. Studies tend to focus on particular aches and pains. For example, an analysis by The Lancet of thousands of trials suggested that paracetamol doesn’t touch pain from osteoarthritis but a max dose of a non-steroidal antiinflammatory (NSAID) called diclofenac does the job. NSAIDs such as ibuprofen reduce inflammation and are best suited to muscular pain relief. The drugs block enzymes that produce hormone-like chemicals called prostaglandins, which promote inflammation, pain and fever. Meanwhile, paracetamol is most suited to headaches and reducing a high temperature.