A GO-TO GUIDE – PAIN & THE RIGHT RELIEF
A go-to pain guide – pain and the right relief, will help you identify your pain and the right analgesic to use for it. Bookmark this page and save it for quick reference in the future!
- Identify the source of your pain.
- Understand the types of medications available to you.
- Know which medication to take, for which pain.
Analgesics are drugs that relieve pain. There are many different types that you can buy at pharmacies.
- Those containing opioids (lows dose of codeine), available by asking the pharmacist.
- Non-aspirin containing (acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol), available over the counter (OTC).
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS (ASA, ibuprofen, naproxen), available OTC.
Opioids-containing pain drugs are available by prescription because they are very POTENT pain relievers and can be dangerous if used incorrectly. They are controlled by law in Canada and the USA, with 8 mg available only by asking a pharmacist for the medication. The equivalent in liquid form, is up to 20 mg per 30 mL. This usually comes in the form of a combined pain reliever, ASA and codeine, acetaminophen and codeine, etc.
Opioids work by BLOCKING pain when they attach to pain receptors in your brain, spinal cord and other areas in your body.
ACETAMINOPHEN is a common non-aspirin drug. You may know it by the brand name Tylenol, Panadol or Paracetamol. There are two strengths available on the shelf and purchasing a generic brand will cost you less. Nonmedicinal ingredients may vary by manufacturer.
This medication makes your nervous system PERCEIVE LESS pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories are available on the shelf in various doses, brands and generic forms. The most common are acetylsalicylic acid , ibuprofen and naproxen. The brand names are Aspirin (ASA), Aleve (naproxen) and Motrin, Advil (Ibuprofen). Generic versions are also available. ASA is NOT recommended to treat fever in children, as it has been linked to Reyes’s syndrome. Healthline.com has a great article regarding this.
NSAIDS BLOCK the ENZYME that creates prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause inflammation and swelling and blocking them will reduce this, relieving pain.There are TOPICAL pain relievers available as well.
Medline Plus, in Over-the-counter Pain Relievers, explains NSAIDS and acetaminophen very well.
WHICH GO-TO MED FOR WHICH PAIN?
This go-to guide section, will help you identify your pain and match it with the right pain medication. Different types of pain may respond differently to specific pain medications. Opioids are not prescribed unless you have tried other pain medications and/or your doctor expects you to have severe pain. This might be the case after a surgery or major procedure.
NON-ASPIRIN VS NSAID
So, do I take acetaminophen (Tylenol) or do I take ibuprofen(Motrin), ASA (Aspirin) or Naproxen (Aleve)? In the USA alone, the OTC drug companies expect to make $809 million dollars in 2021 (statista.com). There are a lot of advertisements trying to convince you to take THEIR product.
You need to know that infection can cause inflammation too. Infection requires a doctor to determine the source and prescribe both antibiotics and pain medication to control your discomfort.
SOFT TISSUE INJURY
NEW neck strain, sprained knee, sprained ankle, NEW bump, NEW mild sport injury, fall etc., all cause inflammation and are exactly what NSAIDS are BEST at treating. Ibuprofen is popular. ASA used to be the go-to treatment. Naproxen lasts longer, is a little stronger and often is taken after ibuprofen has been tried.
Back pain is sometimes inflammation around your spine, discs and spinal cord. Use an NSAID for this. Acetaminophen MAY be the better choice, if the pain has a neurological, bone or disc component, because of how it works.
A headache caused by stress, often starts within the neck muscles and works it way up. You can use either acetaminophen or NSAID for this, but if you think there is swelling, the NSAID may be the better choice. A headache that has nerve-like pain is best treated with acetaminophen, because of the way it works.
Migraines can be bad enough to prompt you to attend the ER. A drug “cocktail,” is a combination of medications known to work well together and you may be given these there. You can do this at home, by combining NSAIDS and non-aspirin medications. Healthline.com suggests “OTC products usually contain aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine.” Swallow the meds with a caffeinated drink to wash them down, as the caffeine QUICKENS the action of the medication. If there is an allergic component to your migraine, an antihistamine can help. You can take small doses of each, together or alternating, at the intervals suggested on the box. In the ER, this combination may include a triptan and triptans are not available OTC. What To Know About A Migraine Cocktail at healthline.com, is very informative.
Gallstones, kidney stones, undiagnosed abdominal pain and/or ANY NEW pain, must be reviewed by a doctor. I have blogged about exercise helping with pain from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia. Over-the-counter pain medications may help these as well. These are complicated issues and your doctor may prescribe you medication better suited to help.
- Always STORE medications away from children.
- Be aware of how OTC medications INTERACT with any other medications you may be prescribed or taking without prescription.
- If pain is not CONTROLLED and/or PERSISTS too long, visit you doctor.
- Your pharmacist can be a great source of information too.
- Remember, no ASA for young kids with a fever.
- Always follow the DIRECTIONS on the box or packaging.
I hope my go-to pain relief guide, will be helpful to you when identifying the right analgesic for your pain.
I will remind you that this information is for reference purposes only and I am not your Primary Care Provider. You need to consult with your PCP to determine the source of your pain and which is the best medication for you. I do not know the medications you may be taking currently. I do not know your specific medical conditions. This quick go-to guide is NOT inclusive or PERSONAL to your needs!!!