There are different types of painkillers and ways of taking them. Your medical team will find the best painkiller for you. Painkilling drugs are sometimes called analgesics. To make it easier to understand, we use the term painkillers in this content.
There are many painkillers available.
Save citation to file
They can treat different levels and types of pain. There are other drugs you often have with painkillers to help relieve pain.
For example, drugs to treat nerve pain, drugs for bone pain called bisphosphonatesand steroids. Your doctor or nurse will regularly assess the pain to find the right combination of medicines for you. You may find it helpful to read our information on some frequently asked questions and answers about painkillers.
If you have had pain for more than a few months, you usually need to take painkillers regularly to control it.
Doctors sometimes call this type of pain chronic or persistent pain. Always take your painkillers at regular intervals exactly as prescribed by your doctor. This is to make sure they work as well as possible for you. The aim is for pain control to be constant. Putting off taking painkillers can make the pain more severe. It may then take longer to get it under control when you do take them.
More health news + info
If you have been given painkillers for breakthrough pain, do not wait for it to get bad before taking them. It is very important to tell your doctor or nurse if pain gets worse. This means they can treat it before it becomes harder to control.
You may need to have your regular dose adjusted, or have a different painkiller. It can sometimes take time to get the right painkiller and dose.
We have more information on different types of pain. You usually take painkillers as tablets or capsules. If you find these hard to swallow, many painkillers come as liquids and some can be dissolved in water. If you have a feeding tubesome liquid or soluble painkillers can be given through it. Painkillers can be absorbed through the skin.
You put a patch onto the skin, which slowly releases a constant supply of the painkiller over a few days. This can be helpful for people who have difficulty swallowing or remembering to take painkillers regularly. These are painkillers that are absorbed through the lining of your mouth so Categories of painkillers do not have to swallow.
You put them in the side of your cheek buccal or under your tongue sublingual. You can also have painkillers as an injection under the skin subcutaneousinto a muscle or directly into a vein intravenous.
Cancer chat forum
If the pain is in one area localrubbing a gel or cream onto the skin may help relieve it. There are also gels or plasters that contain local anaesthetics. These are sometimes helpful. Creams containing menthol may help with muscle pain. Another cream called capsaicin may be used to treat nerve pain.
Capsaicin is the substance that makes chilli peppers hot. Your doctor needs to prescribe this. Do not use any gels or creams on skin that is inflamed or broken. Wash your hands after applying any cream or gel. This is a painkiller that you breathe in. You sometimes have Categories of painkillers before procedures, such as a bone marrow test or a dressing change, to reduce pain.
It is only available in some hospitals. Painkillers are sometimes delivered continuously over a set time through a pump.
There are different ways and reasons for doing this. The painkillers can be given in the following ways:. A dose of a painkiller is given under the skin through a fine needle connected to a small pump.
How do painkillers work?
This is called a syringe pump. It can be used to manage cancer pain in different situations. After surgery, some people may have a painkiller given into a vein through a pump. It is used for short-term pain control. A painkiller is given into a fine tube which is connected to a pump. This is done by an anaesthetist and used after certain types of surgery. But it can also be used to control Categories of painkillers pain that is difficult to manage.
A syringe pump is a small battery-operated pump. It is used to give a continuous dose of painkillers through a needle under the skin for a set time. Other drugs, such as anti-sickness drugs, can be given at the same time. A syringe pump can be used for different reasons, for example:. A nurse will usually change the syringe every 24 hours.
How we can help
Some people have a syringe pump until their symptoms improve. This could be at home or in hospital. Having a syringe pump does not stop you moving around as usual. You can carry it in a pocket or bag. You can go out shopping or for a meal while wearing the pump. Pain is often described as being mild, moderate or severe.
Different types of painkillers are effective for the different levels of pain. We have more information about types of painkillers and ways they are used. Your doctor or nurse may prescribe other drugs to help control the pain. You may take these with painkillers or on their own.
What are analgesics used for?
The drugs you have will depend on the type of pain you have. Sometimes it may take some time to find the drug and dose that works best for you. Your doctor or nurse will discuss your pain management with you. They will tell you which drug Categories of painkillers most suitable for you.
They will also explain the different side effects and how they may affect you. Pain caused by nerve damage can be treated with specific drugs that treat nerve pain. They are taken as tablets or capsules.
The dose of the drug may need to be gradually increased. It may take up to a few weeks to feel their full effect. It is important to continue taking the drug your doctor prescribed, even if it does not work immediately. Some of these drugs work as anti-epilepsy drugs. They change the way in which nerves send messages to your brain. These include:. Other drugs that treat nerve pain Categories of painkillers also be used to treat depression.
Some people worry about taking them because of this. Research shows that in lower doses they work well in targeting and reducing nerve pain. They include:. People who have pain from cancer that has spread to the bones may be Categories of painkillers drugs called bisphosphonates.
As well as helping to reduce pain, bisphosphonates also strengthen the affected bones. You have them as a drip into a vein, usually once a month, or as tablets. Commonly used bisphosphonates are:. Denosumab is another treatment that can be used to relieve bone pain. You have it as an injection just under the skin, every 4 weeks.