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When it comes to treating pain, there are plenty of medications available—from over-the-counter ibuprofen to powerful narcotics like oxycodone. Depending on the type and severity of your pain, your doctor may recommend taking an over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. For moderate to severe pain, you might be prescribed opioids such as fentanyl or morphine. Your doctor can also recommend non-opioid therapies such as corticosteroids or anticonvulsants for long-term relief. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of each type of medication so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.
For many people, pain is something more than just a feeling of discomfort. It can change how you live your life by affecting all the aspects of your being. It can also propel the development of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. The amount of pain also serves as an indicator of a person’s overall health.
Acute pain can occur suddenly and might last for days or weeks; in contrast, chronic pain can last for prolonged periods in varying intensity. Doctors generally consider any pain to be chronic if it lasts for longer than three months.
The methods to relieve pain can include home remedies, over the counter and prescription medication, invasive procedures such as surgery, etc. Each person experiences pain uniquely and requires a different treatment for their condition.
What types of pain exist?
A person can experience either neuropathic or nociceptive pain.
Nociceptive pain exists to help protect the body against the dangers in the environment. It is a result of nervous system response when you come in contact with a potentially harmful thing. This pain makes you pull back your hand if you touch something hot.
Neuropathic pain severs no such purpose. It can result from faulty signals between the nerves and bain or might also occur due to nerve damage. Some misread signals by your brain can also cause you to experience neuropathic pain.
Following are the types of neuropathic pain:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postherpetic neuropathy
- Diabetic neuropathy
When should you see a doctor for pain?
Everyone experiences some pain once in a while. Usually, it does not last long and vanishes on its own. But there are certain situations where the pain becomes so unbearable that you would most probably benefit from visiting a professional.
Consult a doctor if:
- You are still experiencing pain after two to three weeks.
- It is causing depression, anxiety, or stress.
- It is preventing you from sleeping or relaxing.
- It is stopping you from participating in usual life activities.
- Home remedies are ineffective in providing you any relief.
What treatments are available for pain?
You can opt for home remedies or go for mediation depending on your condition’s severity and what your doctor recommends. The doctor can suggest you some over the counter drug, or write some strong prescription based on how much worse you are feeling and for how long.
They can also prescribe some physical therapy along with the medications for people suffering from conditions like arthritis, never pain, fibromyalgia, or postsurgical pain.
These medicines can provide immediate relief from pain. Whether you should take OTC drugs or prescription medicines depends on the severity of the problem you are facing, but both medications help suppress pain and give relief.
Over the counter medications
Drugs like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are readily available to buy without a doctor’s prescription.
These medications block the substances known as COX 1 and COX 2 to relieve pain related to inflammation.
Some of the NSAIDs drugs include:
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
These over the counter medications are especially helpful in conditions such as:
- Minor injuries
- Muscle aches
- Menstrual pain
You might require more potent drugs if the OTC medications fail to provide relief for your pain. Medications like opioids, anticonvulsants are only available on a doctor’s prescription.
Popular prescription pain medications include:
These can relieve acute pain and are also help manage chronic pain.
The popular opioid pain medications available in the market include:
- Tramadol (Ultram)
- Oxymorphone (Opana)
- Oxycodone (OxyContin)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Hydromorphone (Exalgo ER)
- Hydrocodone-acetaminophen (Vicodin)
- Fentanyl (Duragesic)
- Buprenorphine (Butrans, Buprenex)
These drugs work by suppressing the immune system’s inflammatory response to reduce the feeling of pain.
Popular corticosteroids include:
- Prednisone (Deltasone)
- Prednisolone (Prelone)
- Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
- Hydrocortisone (Cortef)
These medicines’ primary purpose is to treat seizures, but they can also help relieve the nerve pain by suppressing the signals from damaged nerves.
Example of these medicines are:
- Pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
These medications can also help treat chronic pain resulting from migraine and nerve damage.
Doctors recommend the following antidepressants for pain treatment:
- SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Paxil (paroxetine) and fluoxetine (Prozac)
- SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) like Effexor XR (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine)
- Tricyclic antidepressants like Norpramin (desipramine), Tofranil (imipramine), and Pamelor (nortriptyline)