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HealthSheets™

Medication for Pain

Medications can block pain, decrease inflammation, and treat related problems. More than 1 medication may be used to treat your pain. Medications may be changed as you feel better, or if they cause side effects.

Medications

What They Do

Possible Side Effects

Non-opioid NSAIDs, aspirin, acetaminophen

Reduce pain chemicals at the site of pain. NSAIDs can reduce joint and soft tissue inflammation.

Nausea, stomach pain, ulcers, indigestion, diarrhea, bleeding, kidney or liver problems.

Opioids (morphine and similar medications often called narcotics)

Remove feelings or perception of pain. Used for moderate to severe pain.

Nausea, vomiting, itching, drowsiness, constipation, slowed breathing.

Other Medications (corticosteroids, antinausea, antidepressant, and antiseizure medications)

Reduce swelling, burning or tingling pain or limit certain side effects of pain medications such as nausea or vomiting.

Your health care provider will explain the possible side effects of these medications.

Anesthetics (local, injected) include lidocaine, benzocaine, and medications used by anesthesiologists

Stop pain signals from reaching the brain by blocking all feeling in the treated area.

Nausea, low blood pressure, fever, slowed breathing, fainting, seizures, heart attack.

When to Call the Health Care Provider

Call your health care provider right away (or have a family member call) if you have:

  • Unrelieved pain

  • Side effects, including constipation or uncontrolled nausea, that interfere with daily activities

If you have extreme sleepiness or breathing problems, call 911.

© 2000-2015 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.