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
Examples Types of pain

Acetaminophen :

  • 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


  • 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


Opiate pain relieversOpiate pain relievers:

  • Examples: acetaminophen and hydrocodone (such as Norco) 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:

  • Can be used for many types of pain

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants:

  • Nerve pain

Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants:

  • 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:


Other treatments

You may want to try other ways to help you relax and ease pain. These may include:

For more information, see the topic Complementary Medicine.

Complementary Medicine: Should I Use Complementary Medicine?

Reducing stress

Stress can make pain worse. It can tighten your muscles, which can cause headaches and pain in your neck, shoulders, and back.

Try these methods to reduce stress and pain:

For more information, see the topic Stress Management.

Changing how you think

How you think can affect how you feel. You may be able to reduce your pain by stopping negative thoughts. You can change what you say to yourself about your pain. To help your outlook, try the methods described in these topics:

Stop Negative Thoughts: Getting Started
Anxiety: Stop Negative Thoughts
Depression: Stop Negative Thoughts

For more information, see the topic Stop Negative Thoughts: Choosing a Healthier Way of Thinking.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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