Sometimes a medicine loses some or all of its ability to work
when it is used daily over a long period of time. This is because your body develops a
tolerance to it. If this happens, you may need to take more of the medicine, change medicines, or add another medicine. Your doctor can work with you to do this.
Pills for pain
You will likely start with medicines that cause the fewest
side effects (such as
acetaminophen). The dose will be
increased or the medicines will be changed as needed. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
A variety of creams, gels, sprays, and patches may be used to relieve chronic pain, including:
Topical analgesics. These are pain relievers that are applied directly to
the skin, such as EMLA cream or a lidocaine patch
(Lidoderm). Some creams or gels can be made at the pharmacy according to your doctor's directions. Some may contain capsaicin, a naturally occurring
substance found in chili peppers.
Cooling spray. This involves using a cooling
spray (such as Biofreeze) directly on the skin. This may be repeated several
Injected medicines—shots—may be used to treat chronic pain, including:
injections (injecting steroids around the spine). Although these injections
have been used for many years and may provide relief for
low back or neck pain caused by disc disease or
pinched nerves, they may not work for everyone.
Joint block injections. A corticosteroid is injected into the painful joint or joints.
Nerve blockNerve block injections. An anesthetic
is injected into the affected nerve to relieve pain. The anesthetic may relieve
pain for several days, but the pain often returns. Although nerve blocks do not
normally cure chronic pain, they may allow you to begin physical therapy and
range of motion.
injections. These may relieve pain by injecting a local anesthetic into trigger
points (or specific tender areas) linked to chronic myofascial pain or
fibromyalgia. These injections do not relieve chronic pain
In this article
This information is produced and provided by the National
Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National
Institute via the Internet web site at http://
.gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this