Over-the-Counter Pain Remedies for Parkinson's Disease

Pain is, unfortunately, an extremely common symptom of Parkinson's disease, up to 85% of people living with Parkinson's experience pain from their condition at some point.

Pain in Parkinson's disease can occur from rigid muscles, from constant tremors, or from falls or other injuries. Parkinson's patients most frequently experience pain in their necks, backs, arms, and legs.

In some people, pain is one of their first symptoms and could help lead to their diagnosis of the condition. In others, it doesn't occur until later. But regardless, it's something you want to manage since it can interfere with your quality of life.

A person looking at over the counter pain relief options
Getty Images Credit: alvarez

Pain Relievers and Other Options

If you're in pain, your healthcare provider may suggest you take over-the-counter pain relief medications such as Motrin (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen) or aspirin. These medications may work to relieve minor aches and pains that you experience from your Parkinson's disease due to immobility, stiffness, and rigidity.

However, your healthcare provider may want to try some other remedies first. These options include:

  • Adjusting your Parkinson's medications. Since pain can be caused by the muscle-related symptoms of Parkinson's disease, it's possible that it can be managed by adjusting the medications prescribed to manage those symptoms. Your healthcare provider is the best judge of whether this is possible, and how to accomplish it.
  • Exercise. Again, most persistent pains in Parkinson's are due to the motor problems associated with the condition. An exercise program can help you alleviate those motor problems, which should, in turn, cause the accompanying aches and pains to diminish. Talk to your healthcare provider about starting such an exercise program.

Other options to treat pain in Parkinson's disease include massage, physical therapy, and stretching.

Parkinson's Pain Can Be Linked to Depression

If exercise and/or adjusting your medications do not help with the pain, ask yourself and your healthcare provider if you might be depressed. Pain in Parkinson's disease is linked to depression, and treating the depression may help to diminish any persistent pains. Depression affects about 40% of people with Parkinson's. In some cases, psychotherapy may alleviate pain from Parkinson's.

If you don't have depression or if the pains persist after treating your symptoms of depression, then you may want to consider seeing a pain specialist before taking over-the-counter remedies. Pain control specialists have a whole array of pain control treatments and techniques, ranging from special medications to special surgical procedures, that are known to be effective.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Skogar O, Lokk J. Pain management in patients with Parkinson's disease: challenges and solutions. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2016;9:469-479. doi:10.2147/JMDH.S105857

  2. Young blood MR, Ferro MM, Munhoz RP, Teive HA, Camargo CH. Classification and Characteristics of Pain Associated with Parkinson's Disease. Parkinsons Dis. 2016;2016:6067132. doi:10.1155/2016/6067132

  3. Fayyaz M, Jaffery SS, Anwer F, Zil-e-ali A, Anjum I. The Effect of Physical Activity in Parkinson's Disease: A Mini-Review. Cureus. 2018;10(7):e2995. doi:10.7759/cureus.2995

  4. Frisina PG, Borod JC, Foldi NS, Tenenbaum HR. Depression in Parkinson's disease: health risks, etiology, and treatment options. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2008;4(1):81-91. doi:10.2147/ndt.s1453

Additional Reading
  • Parkinson's Disease Foundation. Pain fact sheet.

  • Drake DF, Harkins S, Qutubuddin A (2005) Pain in Parkinson's disease: Pathology to treatment, medication to deep brain stimulation. NeuroReb 20:335 341.
  • Ford, B. and Pfeiffer, R.F. (2005). Pain syndromes and disorders of sensation. In: Parkinson’s Disease and nonmotor dysfunction. R.F. Pfeiffer and I. Bodis-Wollner (Eds). Humana Press, Totowa, New Jersey. Pps. 255-270.

By Patrick McNamara, PhD
Patrick McNamara, PhD, is an associate professor of neurology and the director of the Evolutionary Neurobehavior Laboratory.