Medicine for Pain

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


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, bleeding, kidney, or liver problems. Certain NSAIDs may increase cardiovascular risk in some patients. Talk with your health care provider.

Opioids (morphine and similar medicines often called narcotics)

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

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

Other medicines (corticosteroids, antinausea, antidepressant, and antiseizure medicines)

Reduce swelling, burning or tingling pain or limit certain side effects of pain medicines, like nausea or vomiting.

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

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

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

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

When to call the healthcare provider

Call your healthcare 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.