A number of different types of medications may be used to reduce pain in various parts of the body. Any of the medications described below may be helpful in relieving pain, depending on the medical condition of the patient and the severity of the pain being experienced.
Over-the-counter medications are frequently helpful in relieving symptomatic pain that is mild to moderate. Such medications may include analgesics such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen and naproxen. It is important for patients to consult with their physicians regarding appropriate dosages and to avoid possible interactions with prescribed medications or over-the-counter preparations they may be already taking.
For severe or post-operative pain, opioids, sometimes known as narcotics, may be necessary. These may include codeine, propoxyphene (Darvocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin). While these drugs can be extremely effective against pain, they tend to be addictive. Ultram (Tramadol), a prescribed medication called an opioid analgesic, is somewhere between an over-the-counter medication and a narcotic and may be habit-forming.
Muscle relaxants can also help to relieve symptoms of pain, particularly when such symptoms are associated with muscle spasms. Examples of commonly used muscle relaxants are cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), carisoprodol (Soma) and diazepam (Valium).