Pain Relief – What Types Are There and What Are They Used For?

Aug 2013

It’s a common dilemma. Should I take pain killers? Will pain medication stop my pain from getting worse? Or will it just go away on its own?

Pain is different for everyone. While some people can cope with an everyday headache better than others, certain medical conditions can induce more serious pain, or make everyday pain seem harder to cope with.

Luckily, pain medication is available in many forms to help people overcome their symptoms. But it can be difficult to know which is best for you. Certain types are intended for certain types of pain. And, if you have an underlying medical condition or suffer from an allergy, then you may be unsuitable to take some forms of pain killer.

It is always best to visit your GP or local healthcare professional if you are experiencing pain, not only so they can give you advice or prescribe pain medication, but also so they can get to the root of the condition causing pain, and treat that too.

Here are some of the most commonly used pain killers, and a brief summary of what they are used to treat:


Situated at the milder end of the pain medication range, this product can be bought over-the-counter, as it is relatively low-risk in terms of side effects. It is usually applied to relieve mild headaches, and can be effective at reducing pain in the gastrointestinal tract.


There are numerous types of NSAID, such as ibuprofen, with weaker types not requiring a prescription to buy them. They are generally somewhat stronger than paracetamol, and used to provide relief from mild to moderate instances of pain, such as severe headaches, migraines, back and muscle pain, or various types of inflammation. Their anti-inflammatory qualities do make them unsuitable for numerous types of gastrointestinal illness, so they should only be used with caution (or not at all) in some instances.

Opioid Painkillers

These are high-strength analgesics, such as tramadol or codeine. They are very effective at relieving pain associated with chronic conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, or serious injuries. But, because they are so strong, they can only be obtained with a prescription, and used under supervision. Those who have suffered from drug or alcohol dependence before are advised not to use opioids, due to their addictive qualities.