Skip to content

Pain Management Health Center

Font Size

Pain Management - Treatment

Many different treatments can ease pain. Medicines are the most common treatment. But to feel better, you will need to do more than take medicine, such as reducing your stress level or changing how you think.

You also can try physical therapy, relaxation, acupuncture, and other ways to feel better. Talk with your doctor about what mix of treatments might work best for you.

Your treatment depends on several things, including:

  • How bad your pain is camera.gif (based on what you tell your doctor).
  • How long you've had pain.
  • The type of pain you have. For example, you might take different medicine for joint pain than you would for nerve pain.
  • Other health problems you may have.

If you have pain for a long time, your treatment may change over time.

Medicines to treat pain

Medicines can help you get better and can even save your life. But they can also be dangerous, especially if you don't take them the right way. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

Several types of medicines can be used to treat pain. Most of these medicines can treat more than one kind of pain. So you may need to try a couple of medicines to see which works best for you. Your doctor will work with you to find the right types and dosage of medicine. You may take more than one kind of medicine at the same time.

Medicines for different types of pain
ExamplesTypes of pain


  • Example: Tylenol
  • Relieves mild to moderate pain but doesn't reduce inflammation
  • Often used for short-term (acute) pain
  • Muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Organ pain


  • Examples: dexamethasone and prednisone
  • Relieves inflammation that can cause pain
  • May be given as a pill or shot
  • Muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Can be used for many types of pain caused by inflammation

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS):

  • Examples: aspirin (such as Bayer), ibuprofen (such as Advil), and naproxen (such as Aleve)
  • Relieves pain and inflammation
  • May be used for short- or long-term (chronic) pain
  • Muscle, joint, and bone pain
  • Organ pain
  • Can be used for many types of pain


  • Examples: carbamazepine (such as Tegretol), gabapentin (such as Neurontin), and topiramate (such as Topamax)
  • May be used for long-term pain
  • Nerve pain

Opiate pain relieversOpiate pain relievers:

  • Examples: acetaminophen and hydrocodone (such as Vicodin) and morphine (such as Kadian)
  • Used to treat cancer pain
  • Used for severe short-term pain (such as from injury or after surgery)
  • May be used for long-term pain
  • Can be used for many types of pain

Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressants:

  • Examples: duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (such as Effexor)
  • Often used to treat nerve pain, such as from fibromyalgia
  • Can be used for many types of pain

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressantsSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants:

  • Examples: citalopram (such as Celexa), fluoxetine (such as Prozac), and sertraline (Zoloft)
  • May be used for nerve pain caused by diabetes
  • Nerve pain

Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressantsTricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants:

  • Examples: amitriptyline, desipramine (such as Norpramin), and nortriptyline (Pamelor)
  • May be used for long-term pain
  • Can be used for many types of pain

NMDA receptor antagonists:

  • Examples: memantine (Namenda)
  • May be used for nerve pain
  • Nerve pain

All medicines have side effects. For more information, see the Side Effects of Pain Medicines section of this topic.

Learn more about:

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
    illustration of nerves in hand
    lumbar spine
    Woman opening window
    Man holding handful of pills
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    man with a migraine