Pain medications provide temporary comfort during times of illness or injury. They may be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) or prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen, are generally safe and effective for most people. They can provide mild to moderate relief from mild to moderate discomfort like a headache or sore throat; they’re also often prescribed to manage arthritis or back pain symptoms.
Prescription pain medicines, such as NSAIDs and opioids, are more potent and require a prescription to obtain. They can be beneficial in cases of moderate to severe discomfort following cancer treatment or surgery.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, Nuprin), naproxen (Aleve and Naprosyn), and celecoxib (Celebrex), reduce prostaglandins in the body that cause pain and inflammation.
Opioids, or narcotics, are stronger and can help manage intense pain after cancer treatment or surgery. While they may have side effects like respiratory problems and addiction, opioids can be beneficial for some individuals.
Anti-seizure medicines can provide comfort in times of nerve pain, such as the burning sensation associated with shingles or postherpetic neuralgia and diabetic neuropathy’s stabbing and shooting sensation. They do this by blocking pain signals from reaching nerve cells.
Topical medications, such as numbing creams and patches, can be effective for relieving pain that spreads from one area to another. These may contain aspirin, lidocaine, capsaicin pepper or other medications.
Other medications, such as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, can help reduce the amount of pain chemicals produced in the brain. They may be employed to treat certain illnesses like fibromyalgia-related pain.