Aleve Vs. Tylenol: Which Is Better For Muscle Aches?

When you have sore muscles from exercise, hard work, sleeping wrong, or any other reason, you probably want relief quickly. Often you may reach for an over-the-counter pain reliever to help you get rid of the nagging pain. You have several types to choose from when you feel lots of muscle soreness, like Aleve or Tylenol. Aleve is a brand name for naproxen. According to WebMD, naproxen relieves pain from headache, dental pain, muscle aches, menstrual cramps, and tendonitis, and helps reduce swelling. In addition, Aleve is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that can also help with chronic conditions like arthritis. Meanwhile, UnityPoint Health reported that Tylenol is the brand name for acetaminophen, and while it is not an anti-inflammatory drug, it helps relieve pain and reduce fevers.

It might be challenging to decide which type of pain reliever to take if you're dealing with pain. For example, if you're experiencing muscle soreness, should you take Tylenol or Aleve? One medication has the edge to ease those sore muscles.

Here's why Aleve has an advantage over Tylenol for muscle pain

Jordan Reeder, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner, explained what different types of over-the-counter pain relievers do in an interview with UnityPoint Health. "Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer," Reeder said. "Tylenol is the brand usually associated with over-the-counter acetaminophen." Then she explained that Aleve is an anti-inflammatory drug that helps reduce swelling and inflammation, giving it an edge for muscle aches and pain. However, Reeder also noted that long-term use of pain relievers could cause kidney and liver problems.

Aleve is also an even better choice of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) than others like Advil (ibuprofen) for people who have a risk of heart disease (via UnityPoint Health). According to WebMD, take Aleve with an antacid, or food or milk, to help prevent stomach irritation. You shouldn't lie down for at least 10 minutes after you take it. For any pain reliever, if you're taking it as needed, it's best to take it at the first sign of pain. Of note, children under 6 months old shouldn't take Aleve. If you have any questions about which OTC pain reliever is right for you, talk with your doctor.