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Your quick guide to pain relief

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Your quick guide to pain relief

What are the types of pain?

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.

There are three main categories of pain:

  • Acute pain lasts for a short time and occurs following surgery or trauma or other condition. It acts as a warning to the body to seek help.
  • Chronic pain lasts beyond the time expected following surgery, trauma or other condition. It can also exist without a clear reason at all.
  • Cancer pain can occur in patients with early stage and advanced disease, and in cancer survivors as a severe and debilitating side-effect of treatment.

Chronic pain is Australia’s third most costly health condition after cardiovascular diseases and musculoskeletal conditions (also associated with chronic pain).

So what Pain Relief Medicine should I take?

There are a range of pain relief medicines that can be bought at your pharmacy without prescription as over-the-counter pain relievers (including paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin).

Just because they are available over-the-counter does not mean that they are completely free of side effects and you should always check with your pharmacist or doctor if you are unsure whether these drugs are safe for you or not.

If you have allergies, chronic illness or are on any other medicines always check first before taking these medicines. It is important that you consult with your Pharmacist to ensure you receive the right advice and medication for your circumstances. Always if your pain persists or you are concerned see your doctor.


Over the Counter Medications are classified in two categories being:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol & Panadol)
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and Nurofen), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and ketoprofen (Orudis KT)

Both acetaminophen and NSAIDs reduce fever and relieve pain caused by muscle aches and stiffness, but only NSAIDs can also reduce inflammation.  NSAIDs relieve pain by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that cause pain. NSAIDs are also available in a prescription strength that can be prescribed by your physician.

Acetaminophen works on the parts of the brain that receive the “pain messages.”

Topical pain relievers are also available without a doctor’s prescription. These products include creams, lotions, or sprays that are applied to the skin to relieve pain from sore muscles and arthritis.


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