Pain medication guide


Pain, whether acute or chronic, is a common human experience. Fortunately, medicine has developed many medicines to relieve this discomfort and improve the patient’s quality of life. However, choosing the right analgesic can be difficult, as there are many options with different mechanisms of action and side effects. In this article, we’ll explore a detailed guide to painkillers providing the information you need to understand how to choose and use pain medication safely and effectively.

Types of pain

1. Acute pain

This is a brief pain usually caused by injury, surgery or illness. Analgesics such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and mild opioid analgesics like codeine are commonly used to treat acute pain.

2. Chronic pain

This type of pain lasts a long time, often more than three months. Chronic pain can be caused by conditions such as arthritis, chronic low back pain or neuropathy. Treating chronic pain may require a more complex approach, often combining different classes of drugs and complementary therapies.

Types of pain medication

1. Over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics

These drugs, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, are available without prescription. They are commonly used to treat mild to moderate pain, such as headaches, muscle aches and joint pains.

2. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs):

NSAIDs are used to treat mild to moderate pain, and to reduce inflammation and fever. They work by blocking the enzymes responsible for the production of prostaglandins, chemicals involved in pain and inflammation. Common medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin fall into this group. It’s important to note that NSAIDs can cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular side effects. They should therefore be used with caution and only as directed.

3. Opioid analgesics

Opioid analgesics are used to treat moderate to severe pain. They act by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord, reducing pain perception. Drugs such as morphine, oxycodone and tramadol belong to this group. However, because of the risk of dependence and potentially serious side effects, opioids are generally reserved for severe pain and are prescribed under close medical supervision.

4. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants

Several drugs originally developed to treat depression and epilepsy have been shown to reduce neuropathic pain, a form of chronic pain caused by nerve damage. Tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline and anticonvulsants such as gabapentin are often prescribed in these cases.

5. Adjuvant drugs

In addition to the drug classes mentioned, there are various adjuvant drugs that can be used in combination with other pain medications to enhance their efficacy. These include muscle relaxants, corticosteroids and topical medications (applied to the skin).

How to choose a pain medication?

Each type of pain medication has its own uses and benefits. Over-the-counter painkillers are ideal for mild, temporary pain, offering fast relief without a prescription. NSAIDs are particularly useful for inflammatory pain, providing an additional anti-inflammatory effect.

Opioids are reserved for severe, chronic pain, but their use requires close medical supervision because of the risks of addiction and side effects. Adjuvant analgesics are commonly used to treat neuropathic pain, caused by nerve damage.

How to use pain medication

Here are a few guidelines for the proper use of these pain medications: 

  • Consult a health care professional: Always consult your physician or health care professional before taking pain medication . They can assess your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment.
  • Follow instructions: Be sure to read the instructions supplied with your medication and follow them to the letter. And don’t forget to respect the recommended doses and frequency of administration.
  • Watch for side effects: Be aware of possible side effects. If you experience any side effects, please inform your doctor immediately.
  • Avoid prolonged self-medication: Prolonged self-medication can mask underlying medical problems. If the pain persists, consult your healthcare professional again.
  • Beware of the risk of dependence: In the case of opioids, it is important to strictly follow dosage instructions and not to use them for longer than necessary to avoid the risk of dependence.


The Pain Medication Guide offers a useful perspective on how to choose and use these therapeutic agents. Whether for acute or chronic pain, it’s important to seek appropriate medical care and follow professional recommendations. By combining responsible use with open communication with healthcare professionals, pain medications can play an important role in improving patients’ quality of life.