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Medicine for Pain

Medicines can help to block pain, decrease inflammation, and treat related problems. More than 1 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

Nonopioid NSAIDs

aspirin, a, ibuprofen, naproxen

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

Nausea, stomach pain and irritation, ulcers, indigestion, bleeding, kidney, and liver problems. Certain NSAIDs may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke in some people. Smoking and alcohol can make the risk worse. Talk with your healthcare provider.


morphine and similar medicines, often called narcotics

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

Nausea, vomiting, itching, drowsiness or sleepiness, constipation, slowed breathing

Other medicines

corticosteroids, antinausea, antidepressants, antiseizure medicines

Reduce swelling, burning or tingling pain, or certain side effects of pain medicines, such as nausea or vomiting

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

Anesthetics (local, injected)

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, dizziness, weakness, fainting, seizures, heart attack

When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away (or have a family member call) if any of the following occur:

  • Unrelieved pain

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

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

Other precautions

  • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist how to get rid of your pain medicines safely when you stop using them.

  • Never share your pain medicines with anyone.

  • Store your medicines in a safe place so they can’t be stolen. If you think your medicine has been stolen or lost, tell your healthcare provider right away.

Online Medical Reviewer: Jimmy Moe MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2022
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