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Treatment of Pain

By John Markman, MD, Sri Kamesh Narasimhan, PhD

In some cases, treating the underlying disorder eliminates or minimizes the pain. For example, setting a broken bone in a cast or giving antibiotics for an infected joint helps reduce pain. However, even if the underlying disorder can be treated, pain relievers (analgesics) may still be needed to quickly manage the pain

Doctors choose an analgesic based on the type and duration of pain and on the likely benefits and risks. Most analgesics are effective for nociceptive pain (due to ordinary injury of tissues) but are less effective for neuropathic pain (due to damage or dysfunction of the nerves, spinal cord, or brain), which often requires different drugs. For some types of pain, especially chronic pain, nondrug treatments are also important.

Did You Know...

  • Pain can virtually always be at least partially relieved.

Analgesics fall into three categories:

  • Opioid (narcotic) analgesics

  • Nonopioid analgesics

  • Adjuvant analgesics (drugs that are usually used to treat other problems such as seizures pain but that sometimes relieve pain)

Resources In This Article

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

  • Generic Name
    Select Brand Names
  • TYLENOL
  • DURAMORPH PF, MS CONTIN
  • NEURONTIN
  • No US brand name
  • COMPRO
  • VISTARIL
  • REGLAN
  • EVZIO
  • PROVIGIL
  • FLOMAX
  • CONCERTA, RITALIN
  • ULTRAM
  • DILAUDID
  • BUPRENEX
  • DOLOPHINE
  • DEMEROL
  • TALWIN
  • ACTIQ, DURAGESIC, SUBLIMAZE
  • OXYCONTIN
  • ADVIL, MOTRIN IB
  • ALEVE, NAPROSYN
  • NEXCEDE
  • INDOCIN
  • SPRIX
  • CATAFLAM, VOLTAREN
  • PEPCID
  • CYTOTEC
  • PRILOSEC
  • COUMADIN
  • CLINORIL
  • CELEBREX
  • FELDENE
  • NALFON
  • ANSAID, OCUFEN
  • MOBIC
  • DAYPRO
  • NORPRAMIN
  • LYRICA
  • EFFEXOR XR
  • WELLBUTRIN, ZYBAN
  • CYMBALTA
  • LEVOPHED
  • AVENTYL
  • TEGRETOL
  • DILANTIN
  • VIMPAT
  • TRILEPTAL
  • ZONEGRAN
  • TOPAMAX
  • LAMICTAL
  • GABITRIL
  • KLONOPIN
  • XYLOCAINE
  • OZURDEX
  • RAYOS
  • LIORESAL
  • QUTENZA
  • AREDIA
  • CATAPRES
  • ZANAFLEX