There are many types of pain medications. Listed below are the major types normally used.
Anacin, Ascriptin, acetylsalicylic acid and other forms of this work horse medication have been around for decades and have found wide acceptance as an analgesic in the treatment of minor pain. Either alone or in combination with or substances such as narcotics, it’s proven most effective. It also finds use as an antipyretic (lowers temperature,) an anti-inflammatory agent and most recently as an anti platelet drug in the prevention of myocardial infarction’s, strokes and blood clots in low doses. The author takes a daily baby aspirin (81 mg) for just such an indication. It’s primary negative is the occasional formation of GI ulcers or stomach bleeding. It’s one of the most commonly used medications world wide.
Tylenol, like aspirin, is an analgesic (diminishes pain) that’s available without a prescription and is useful in treating minor pain and flu like symptoms. It also finds it’s way into combination drugs like narcotics for more severe pain such as post operative, obstetric, or in those with cancer pain. It is not an anti inflammatory and does not share the same side effects as aspirin. But, if inflammation is part of the presenting symptoms, then acetaminophen may not be the best choice. In chronic use or larger doses, it can be potentially fatal to liver function, and is a common cause of death in those who’ve taken a drug overdose.
Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Medications
The NSAIDs, Motrin (ibuprofen), Naprosyn (naproxen),Clinoril (sulindac),Celebrex (celecoxib), etc. as they are called, can be quite useful in treating chronic or arthritic type pain as well as acute pain. Like aspirin, NSAIDs also have the ability to lower temperature. Their primary role in in the treatment of inflammatory conditions, the -itis’s, as in tendinitis, bursitis, etc. Once again, occasional GI distress is the major potential side effect and is reported to be less the family of drugs like Celebrex, a COX-2 inhibitor.
In select circumstances, these anti inflammatory agents like prednisone, Medrol Dose Packs, etc. can be quite effective over short durations. They are not to be confused with anabolic steroids like the weight lifters have reportedly used. You might be given these orally or as an injection into a joint or a tendon sheath. Side effects can be elevated blood sugar in diabetics, weight gain, and adrenal suppression.
Widely prescribed by the medical system, drugs like morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, etc. find a role in controlling more severe pain. They require special licensing from the Drug Enforcement Agency to prescribe but help patients through surgery, migraines, deliveries, trauma, etc. They should only be taken when the above options prove ineffective. On the downside if taken for a long time narcotics can cause addiction, abuse, etc.
In many instances, simply starting with ice and/or heat can make a big difference. And, this list of categories is not meant to be exhaustive. Electric stimulation, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, etc. may be successful in many cases.