Pain is often described as being mild, moderate or severe. Different types of painkillers are effective for the different levels of pain. Once your doctors and nurses have assessed your pain they will prescribe the best painkillers to help control it.
- Mild pain is often successfully treated with mild painkillers called non-opioids.
- Moderate to severe pain is usually treated with painkillers called opioids. Sometimes opioids are used to treat mild pain.
There are other medicines (adjuvant drugs) that are often given with painkillers to help relieve pain. These include steroids and muscle relaxants.
At first, you usually take a short-acting painkiller. These provide quick pain relief that lasts for a short amount of time. The dose can easily be adjusted until your pain is well controlled.
When the doctor knows how much of the painkiller you need to control your pain, you will usually change to a long-acting drug. Long-acting painkillers are usually slower to control the pain, but are effective for a longer period of time. They are also called slow-release painkillers.