My Condition

The role of medication

In trials 20-25% of people benefit from medicines which on average only provide a 30% (one third) reduction in pain. All medicines have possible side effects, so you need to weigh up the advantages of taking them against the disadvantages.

Pain medicines should only be taken if they help improve your quality of life and function. It is important to start at a low dose as side effects often get worse when doses increase. Start low, go slow and use the minimum dose for maximum benefit.

Set goals to achieve as a result of starting a new medicine such as increasing activity or returning to work. If your pain medicines do not work then speak to your GP/nurse/pharmacist about slowly reducing and stopping them.

Sean's story - there is another way | NHS England
NHS England| Published: 25 June 2019

What types of medications can be used to manage pain?

The type of medicine that may help to treat your pain depends on the kind of pain you are experiencing. Click on the boxes below to read more about the different types of medication and the related side-effects.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

Opioids for moderate pain

Opioids for severe pain

Remember to speak to your GP, Nurse or Pharmacist before adding any over the counter, herbal or homeopathic remedies to your prescribed medication.

Nerve pain

Pain affecting nerves may not be helped by ‘normal’ pain medication. Click on the box below to find out more.  

Medicines that act on nerves

Click below to find out more: