Pain-relieving drugs, called analgesics, include no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, narcotics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and others. NSAIDs and acetaminophen are available as over-the-counter and prescription medications, and are often the initial pharmacological treatment for pain. These drugs may also be used as an adjunct to other drug treatments that may require a prescription. NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, naproxen sodium and ketoprofen, Orudis KT. These drugs are used to treat pain from inflammation and work by blocking the production of pain-enhancing neurotransmitters such as prostaglandins. Acetaminophen is also effective against pain, but its ability to reduce inflammation is limited. Narcotics handle acute pain effectively and are used for cancer pain and acute pain that does not respond to NSAIDs and acetaminophen. Narcotics are classified as either opiates or opioids and are available only with a prescription. Opiates include morphine and codeine, which are derived from opium, a substance found naturally in some poppy species. Opioids are synthetic drugs based on the structure of opium. This drug class includes drugs such as oxycodone, methadone, and meperidine. Although antidepressant medications were developed to treat depression, it has been found that they are also effective in dealing with some chronic headaches, cancer pain, and pain associated with nerve damage. Antidepressants that have analgesic (pain-reducing) properties include amitriptyline, Elavil trazodone and imipramine. Anticonvulsant drugs share a similar background with antidepressants. Developed to treat epilepsy, some anticonvulsants were also found to relieve pain. Medicines such as phenytoin and carbamazepine are prescribed to treat pain associated with nerve damage.
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Associations & Societies:
American Board of Pain Medicine | American Chronic Pain Association | American Society of Anesthesiologists | American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine | Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland | Centre for Pediatric Pain | European League Against Pain | The British Pain Society | German Society for Pain Medicine | Indian Society for Study of Pain | Malaysian Society of Interventional Pain Practitioner | Korean Society of Anesthesiologists