How to Know Which Pain Medicine is Best for Your Pain

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 1, 2019 12:01:19 PM / by Florida Pain Relief Centers

Florida Pain Relief Centers

Pain Medicine OptionsWhen it comes to pain relief medicine, it can be difficult to determine which will be the best option for your individual situation and specific type of pain. Many people are hesitant to take pain medications unless absolutely necessary because of potential side effects, particularly if they're unsure which medicine they should choose to begin with.

By understanding the risks associated with various pain medications, and what type of pain each medicine targets, those in pain may find it easier to choose an optimal pain relief solution for their situation.

Here’s an overview of the different types of available pain medications, what type of pain they relieve, and what risks or side effects may be associated with each of them.

Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers

There are two main types of OTC pain medicines:

  1. Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

  2. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as:
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen (Aleve)


This type of pain reliever works by elevating the pain threshold in the parts of the brain that receive "pain messages", so that a greater amount of pain is required before a person actually feels it.

Type of relief provided:

  • Reduction of fever
  • Relief from minor pain caused by muscle aches or stiffness
  • Headache relief

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Liver damage or failure (at high doses)
  • Liver toxicity (if taken while drinking alcoholic beverages)
  • Headaches caused by over-use of the medication

(Also available in prescription strength)

These pain medications provide relief by reducing the production of prostaglandins, (chemicals that trigger inflammation and swelling, and cause pain by irritating nerve endings.)

Type of relief provided:

  • Fever Reduction
  • Relief from minor to moderate muscle, back or joint pain
  • Relief from pain caused by stiffness, muscle strains or arthritis
  • Relief from acute pain, such as an injury
  • Headache, back ache and toothache relief
  • Reduced inflammation (irritation & swelling)
  • Relief from menstrual cramps
  • Specific to aspirin: considered cardioprotective by acting as a blood thinner

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Gastritis
  • Peptic ulcer disease
  • Stomach or intestinal bleeding
  • Kidney damage/issues
  • Elevated risk of heart attack or stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches caused by over-use of the medication
  • Reye’s syndrome (in children or teens with a viral infection)

Prescription Pain Medications

If over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t enough to ease your pain, your doctor may recommend a stronger, prescription pain medication. The most powerful of these medicines are opioids, which must be taken with care because of the risks of side effects or addiction.

The main types of prescription pain relievers are:


These pain medications provide relief by reducing swelling, redness, itching and allergic reactions.

Type of relief provided:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Allergy relief
  • Relief from arthritis pain
  • Decreased asthma symptoms

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Weight gain
  • Sleep interruption
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset
  • Altered Mood
  • Weakened immune system
  • Bone thinning


This type of medication reduces feelings of pain by inhibiting the transmission of ‘pain signals’ to the brain.

Type of relief provided:

  • Relief from severe or acute pain, such as after traumatic injury or surgery

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • Breathing problems
  • Potential for opioid addiction
  • Potential for overdose and death


These drugs can control pain and/or emotional conditions by adjusting levels of neurotransmitters (natural chemicals) in the brain.

Type of relief provided:

  • Diminished neuropathic or nerve pain
  • Relief from chronic pain conditions such as migraines or menstrual cramps

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty urinating

(anti-seizure medications)

These drugs are typically used to treat seizure disorders, but some have also been found to be effective for relieving pain. It is believed that they provide relief by minimizing the effects of nerves that cause pain.

Type of relief provided:

  • Relief from pain caused by damaged nerves
  • Relief from chronic pain caused by spinal cord injury
  • Chronic headache / migraine relief

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

Lidocaine patches

This pain relief solution is a local, topical anesthetic that works by stopping nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.

Type of relief provided:

  • Relief from nerve pain after shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN)
  • Relief from certain types of superficial NeP syndromes, (such as diabetic polyneuropathy)
  • Treatment for chronic low back pain

Risks/side effects of use:

  • Skin irritation (redness, swelling, blisters, numbness)
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tinnitus
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion / light-headedness
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Tremors or seizures (convulsions)

Regardless of which type of medication is chosen, it is very important to understand the benefits and risks, and to follow directions and dosages very carefully. This is especially true with prescription strength pain medications, which carry greater risks and possible side effects. 

As with any medication, it is best to consult your physician prior to taking pain relievers, (even the over-the-counter type,) particularly if you have known medical conditions which may be affected by using these medicines.

Pain Relief – With or Without Pain Medication

At Florida Pain Relief Centers, our focus is on providing relief for patients in pain using the most optimal treatment plan for each individual situation. In many cases, the latest alternative treatment methods we offer can relieve chronic pain without need for any type of medication.

But if pain medicine is called for, our expert pain management physicians will recommend the most effective option to reduce your suffering, and provide counsel regarding any risks or potential side effects.

To find out how we can provide relief for your chronic pain, call Florida Pain Relief Centers today at 800.215.0029 to schedule a consultation, or click the button below to set up an appointment online at one of our clinic locations so we can discuss options for helping restore you to a more pain-free lifestyle.




Topics: Pain Medicine, Pain Medication, Florida Pain Relief, Chronic Pain Management