Pain relievers are medicines that reduce or relieve headaches, sore muscles, arthritis, or other aches and pains.
There are many different pain medicines, and each one has advantages and risks. Some types of pain respond better to certain medicines than others. Each person may also have a slightly different response to a pain reliever.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are good for many types of pain. There are two main types of OTC pain medicines: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are examples of OTC NSAIDs.
If OTC medicines don’t relieve your pain, your doctor may prescribe something stronger. Many NSAIDs are also available at higher prescription doses. The most powerful pain relievers are narcotics. They are very effective, but they can sometimes have serious side effects. Because of the risks, you must use them only under a doctor’s supervision.
There are many things you can do to help ease pain. Pain relievers are just one part of a pain treatment plan.
Over-the-counter pain relievers
The most common types of OTC pain medicines are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Pain medicines are also called analgesics. Each kind of pain medicine has benefits and risks. Some types of pain respond better to one kind of medicine than to another kind. What takes away your pain might not work for someone else.
Taking pain medicines before exercising is OK. But do not overdo the exercise just because you have taken the medicine.
Read labels to learn how much medicine you can give your child at one time and during the whole day. This is known as the dosage. Talk to your pharmacist or your child’s health care provider if you are not sure about the correct amount. Do not give children medicine that is meant for adults.
Other tips for taking pain medicines:
- If you take pain relievers on most days, tell your provider. You may need to be watched for side effects.
- Do not take more than the amount recommended on the container or more than your provider tells you to take.
- Read the warnings on the label before taking the medicine.
- Store medicine safely and securely. Check the dates on medicine containers to see when you should throw them away.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is known as a non-aspirin pain reliever. It is NOT an NSAID, which is described below.
- Acetaminophen relieves fever and headaches, and other common aches and pains. It does not relieve inflammation.
- This medicine does not cause as many stomach problems as other pain medicines do. It is also safer for children. Acetaminophen is often recommended for arthritis pain because it has fewer side effects than other pain medicines.
- Examples of OTC brands of acetaminophen are Tylenol, Paracetamol, and Panadol.
- Acetaminophen prescribed by a doctor is usually a stronger medicine. It is often combined with a narcotic ingredient.
- Adults should not take more than 3 grams (3,000 mg) of acetaminophen in a single day. Large amounts can harm your liver. Remember that 3 grams is about the same as 6 extra-strength pills or 9 regular pills.
- If you are also taking pain medicine prescribed by your provider, talk to your provider or pharmacist before taking any OTC acetaminophen.
- For children, follow package instructions for the maximum amount your child can have in a single day. Call your child’s provider if you are not sure about the instructions.
- NSAIDs relieve fever and pain. They also reduce swelling from arthritis or a muscle sprain or strain.
- When taken for a short time (no longer than 10 days), NSAIDs are safe for most people.
- Some NSAIDs can be bought over the counter, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn).
- Other NSAIDs are prescribed by your provider.
- DO NOT give aspirin to children. Reye syndrome can occur when aspirin is used to treat children who have viral infections, such as chickenpox or the flu.
Talk to your provider or pharmacist before using any over-the-counter NSAID if you:
- Have heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or stomach or digestive tract bleeding.
- Take other medicines, especially blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin),clopidogrel (Plavix), apixiban (Eliquis), dabigatran (Pradaxa), or rivaroxaban (Xarelto).
- Are taking NSAIDs prescribed by your provider, including celecoxib (Celebrex) or nabumetone (Relafen).
Opioid Prescription Pain Medications
Some healthcare providers recommend the use of opioid medications to help patients manage pain. If your healthcare provider has prescribed an opioid medication for you, it is important that you understand the benefits and risks involved with taking these medications.
Being treated with an opioid medication may offer certain benefits. These potential benefits include: better control of pain, which may improve how you feel and function physically; an increased ability to function in personal and professional relationships, as well as an improved sense of overall well-being; and or a decrease in the intensity of pain.
Being treated with an opioid medication increases certain risks. These potential risks include:
- Physical Dependency – if you use opioid medications;
- Addiction – being unable to control your use of the drug, is different from physical dependency, You are especially at-risk if you have had previous problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
- Ineffectiveness – A chance that this drug might not help improve your functioning or decrease your pain
- Withdrawal symptoms – including yawning, sweating, watery eyes, runny nose, anxiety, tremors, aching muscles, hot and cold flashes, “goose flesh,” abdominal cramps, and diarrhea — when you try to stop using this drug. These symptoms might begin 24 to 48 hours after your last dose and might last for up to three weeks
- Side effects – such as skin rash, constipation, sexual dysfunction, sleep abnormalities, sweating, edema, sedation, or the possibility of impaired cognitive (mental status), and/or motor ability, among others. These side effects might interfere with your ability to do what you normally do.
- Drug Overdoses – If you take a higher dose than what is prescribed to you, you might experience excessive sleepiness, trouble breathing, or even die.
For more information, please check
Pain Relief Drug List and Pain Medication List