Pain meds 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 opioids. They are very effective, but they can sometimes have serious side effects. There is also a risk of addiction. 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.

CHRONIC PAIN

Chronic pain is a type of pain that continues over time. It can last anywhere from 3 months or more to several years. Chronic pain may be caused by a certain health condition. It is more common in people who are older.

Treatment of chronic pain usually involves medicines and therapy. Medicines used for chronic pain include pain relievers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Different types of medicines help people who have different types of pain. You usually use long-acting medicines for constant pain. Short-acting medicines treat short-term, or acute, pain.

PATH TO IMPROVED HEALTH

The goal of chronic pain treatment is to increase function and quality of life. Different types of medicines help people who have different types of pain. For instance, short-acting medicines treat pain that comes and goes. Long-acting medicines treat constant pain.

The most common medicines are listed below. Each one may have side effects. These can range from mild to severe. It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders on how to use your pain medicine. If you have questions about side effects or about how much medicine to take, ask your doctor or pharmacist.