FOR YOUR HEALTH
Which is best for your pain?
What type of pain do you have?
BY MARIJKE VROOMEN DURNING
When you have pain, you may find the large number of over-the-counter (OTC) analgesics (pain
relievers) overwhelming. And how do you know if you can manage with an OTC analgesic or if
you need something stronger, a prescription analgesic? Here is a quick primer with information from anesthesiologists and pain-management experts that may help you decide. C
Marijke Vroomen Durning is a registered nurse and author.
Nerve pain. This is more of a sharp,
shooting sensation or a pain that radiates
from one location to another. It may require
a prescription medication.
Simple, superficial pain. Nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may
help with aches and pains, strains, anything
that could be inflammatory in nature.
Costco and Costco.ca
offer a variety of
can get their pain
prescriptions ;lled at
(ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin)
NSAIDs often work best for treating pain
caused by inflammation, such as sprains,
toothaches, headaches, backaches
and even arthritis.
Acetominophen can also treat pain from
headaches and arthritis, but it doesn’t reduce
inflammation and swelling.
The most common side effect of NSAIDs
is stomach upset. NSAIDs can react with
anticoagulants (blood thinners) and are
metabolized through the kidneys, so if you
have kidney disease your doctor may advise
against taking NSAIDs. Acetaminophen
doesn’t upset the stomach the way
NSAIDs do, but large doses can
affect your liver.
A prescription NSAID for mild to moderate
pain may help if you have pain that isn’t
responding to OTC medications.
Opioids, which are narcotics, are prescribed
alone or in combination with acetaminophen.
Opioids treat more serious or severe pain
caused by injury, surgery or illness. They are
usually meant for short-term use only, as
long-term use (commonly prescribed for
long-term chronic cancer pain) carries a risk
of physical dependence or addiction.
Other prescription medications,
such as antidepressants and
These may also be prescribed for pain. If
you have neuropathic (nerve) pain or
chronic pain that doesn’t respond
to these analgesics, other pre-
scription drugs, such as anti-
depressants and anti-seizure
medications, may help.
Side effects from prescrip-
tion drugs vary widely,
depending on the medi-
cation and the dose, but
the most common ones are
sedation, nausea, vomiting