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Delivering Pain Medication

Medications will help control pain. There are many ways to take pain medications. For instance, you may use pills, patches, or a special pump. As your pain changes, the way you take medications may change.

Pills, tablets, and sprays

Some medications are swallowed. Others are allowed to dissolve in the mouth. Some medications can be taken as a nasal spray.  

Patches and suppositories

If you can't take oral medications, a patch placed on the skin provides medication over a few days. Some medications are placed in the rectum.

IVs and PCA pumps

With IV (intravenous) delivery, a catheter (small tube) sends medications into a vein in the hand or forearm. With a PCA (patient-controlled analgesia) pump, you push a button to receive a dose of pain medication. In some cases, a PCA will also be used to deliver pain medication continuously. This means you don't need to push a button. 


In some cases, injections are used to treat pain in specific areas. For instance, a steroid injection into a joint can decrease inflammation and  joint pain. In some cases, local anesthetic medication is injected into nerves. This is called a nerve block

Spinal and epidural anesthesia

Spinal and epidural anesthesia are used to control severe pain. Medications are delivered near or directly into the cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the spinal cord. This method is also called intrathecal administration. These methods (epidural or spinal) block pain in one section of the body, often from the waist down. 

Will I become addicted?

Pain medication can be safely used for short periods. If these medications are taken for longer periods, there is an increased chance that a person may become addicted. When taking medications for pain, it is important to work closely with your health care provider and to take them only as instructed.



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