Types of medications

Common categories of pharmacological pain treatments

Over the following pages, you will find more information about some of the most common pain medications. These are grouped into the broad categories of:

Over-the-counter pain medications

These are medications that you can buy at the store without a prescription. Examples include:

  • acetaminophen

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, or ‘anti-inflammatories’ for short)

  • topical analgesics.

Prescription pain medications

These are medications that need to be prescribed to you by your healthcare provider. Examples include:

  • tricyclic antidepressants

  • serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

  • anticonvulsants

  • corticosteroids

  • muscle relaxants

  • cannabinoids

  • opioids, such as tramadol and morphine

  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Interventional procedures

These are invasive procedures (they involve delivering treatment under the skin) and are performed by a healthcare provider. Common examples include:

  • botulinum toxin

  • trigger point injections

  • intra-articular joint injections

  • epidural steroid injections

  • nerve ablation

  • pain pumps.

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