Alternate Names : Analgesic
A pain medicine lessens the amount, duration, or sensation of pain.
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Over-the-counter pain medicine
Many pain medicines are available over the counter, without a prescription. Common over-the-counter pain medicines include:
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen are all NSAIDs.
Prescription pain medicine
Prescription pain medicines are available only with a prescription from a healthcare provider. Examples include:
anticonvulsants, which can relieve chronic nerve pain. Examples include phenytoin and carbamazepine.
antidepressants, which may relieve certain kinds of chronic pain. Common antidepressants include amitriptyline, trazodone, and imipramine.
capsaicin, a cream that can relieve skin pain caused by shingles, nerve problems, and other causes
corticosteroids, which can relieve pain from inflammation
narcotics, which are the most effective for moderate to severe pain. Common narcotics include morphine, codeine, meperidine, and oxycodone.
sumatriptan and naratriptan, which can relieve the pain of a migraine headache
tramadol, which is used mainly for chronic pain
All medicines have potential side effects, including allergic reactions. Other common side effects of pain medicines include:
diabetes and osteoporosis with long-term use of corticosteroids
drowsiness, and nausea with tramadol
drowsiness and confusion with anticonvulsants
constipation, and potential addiction with narcotics
dry mouth, drowsiness, and constipation with antidepressants
increased blood sugar and increased risk of infection with corticosteroid use
liver damage with high doses of acetaminophen, especially when it's used for long periods of time
rarely, increased blood pressure with sumatriptan and naratriptan
stomach upset, diarrhea, and rarely bleeding and kidney problems with NSAIDs
Some people have severe pain that won't respond to over-the-counter pain medicines. These people should talk to their healthcare provider. Pain can be a sign of a serious problem. If it is not, a healthcare provider can prescribe stronger medicine or suggest a specialist who can help control chronic pain.