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Medications for Chronic Pain

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Dec 1, 2023.

Managing chronic pain can be complex and the use of medications should be combined with nonpharmacological approaches, such as acupuncture, functional restoration therapy, and practicing mindfulness. In many cases, treatment may not eliminate pain entirely, and the goal is to minimize its impact on daily life. Some medications that may be used in chronic pain include:

  • Acetaminophen:
    • Used for mild-to-moderate pain and may be taken regularly at prescribed intervals
    • Can be used alone or in combination with other pain relief medications
    • Generally safe with few side effects.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs):
  • Antidepressants (such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline):
    • These can be prescribed in low doses for nerve pain caused by conditions such as shingles, diabetes, stroke, or spinal cord injury. Some antidepressants can improve sleep and induce relaxation
    • Need to be taken daily, even on pain-free days, to be effective.
  • Gabapentinoids (gabapentin [Neurontin], pregabalin [Lyrica]):
    • Effective for nerve pain caused by various conditions and works by dampening down nerve activity in irritated or damaged nerves. Consistent daily use is crucial for optimal results.
  • Opioids (codeine, tramadol, hydrocodone [Hysingla], morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl):
    • Reserved for moderate-to-severe acute pain or chronic pain due to cancer
    • Not recommended for other types of chronic pain due to limited efficacy
    • Associated with side effects like constipation, nausea, dizziness, and sleepiness
    • Long-term use can lead to dependency and addiction.

Drugs used to treat Chronic Pain

The medications listed below are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

Filter
Drug name Rating Reviews Activity ? Rx/OTC Pregnancy CSA Alcohol
oxycodone 5.9 649 reviews for oxycodone to treat Chronic Pain
Rx N 2 X
Generic name:
oxycodone systemic
Brand names:
OxyContin, Roxicodone, Oxyfast, Xtampza ER, Dazidox, ETH-Oxydose, Oxaydo, Oxydose, RoxyBond
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
tramadol 5.8 267 reviews for tramadol to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 4 X
Generic name:
tramadol systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Dilaudid 8.5 74 reviews for Dilaudid to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
hydromorphone systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Cymbalta 5.8 197 reviews for Cymbalta to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C N X
Generic name:
duloxetine systemic
Drug class:
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
OxyContin 8.1 98 reviews for OxyContin to treat Chronic Pain
Rx N 2 X
Generic name:
oxycodone systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
acetaminophen / oxycodone 5.5 422 reviews for acetaminophen / oxycodone to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
acetaminophen / oxycodone systemic
Brand names:
Percocet, Primlev, Xolox, Nalocet, Prolate
Drug class:
narcotic analgesic combinations
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Roxicodone 8.8 40 reviews for Roxicodone to treat Chronic Pain
Rx N 2 X
Generic name:
oxycodone systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Fentanyl Transdermal System 7.6 76 reviews for Fentanyl Transdermal System to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
fentanyl systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
Percocet 8.0 45 reviews for Percocet to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
acetaminophen / oxycodone systemic
Drug class:
narcotic analgesic combinations
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
duloxetine 5.7 236 reviews for duloxetine to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C N X
Generic name:
duloxetine systemic
Brand names:
Cymbalta, Irenka
Drug class:
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
hydromorphone 7.9 139 reviews for hydromorphone to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
hydromorphone systemic
Brand name:
Dilaudid
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
buprenorphine 5.4 500 reviews for buprenorphine to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 3 X
Generic name:
buprenorphine systemic
Brand names:
Butrans, Belbuca, Buprenex
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
methadone 8.7 170 reviews for methadone to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
methadone systemic
Brand names:
Methadone Diskets, Methadose
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
morphine 7.1 190 reviews for morphine to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
morphine systemic
Brand names:
MS Contin, Kadian, Infumorph, Astramorph PF, Duramorph, Duramorph PF
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Butrans 6.0 151 reviews for Butrans to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 3 X
Generic name:
buprenorphine systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
MS Contin 7.8 52 reviews for MS Contin to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
morphine systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
fentanyl 7.7 188 reviews for fentanyl to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
fentanyl systemic
Brand names:
Fentanyl Transdermal System, Duragesic, Fentora, Actiq, Lazanda, Subsys
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Duragesic 8.6 29 reviews for Duragesic to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
fentanyl systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Kadian 8.0 19 reviews for Kadian to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 2 X
Generic name:
morphine systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Oxyfast 10 3 reviews for Oxyfast to treat Chronic Pain
Rx N 2 X
Generic name:
oxycodone systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
gabapentin Rate Add review
Rx C N X
Generic name:
gabapentin systemic
Drug class:
gamma-aminobutyric acid analogs
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
acetaminophen Rate Add review
Rx/OTC C N X
Generic name:
acetaminophen systemic
Drug class:
miscellaneous analgesics
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
AHFS DI Monograph, Prescribing Information
Belbuca 4.5 223 reviews for Belbuca to treat Chronic Pain
Rx C 3 X
Generic name:
buprenorphine systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information
Irenka Rate Add review
Rx C N X
Generic name:
duloxetine systemic
Drug class:
serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
Xtampza ER 3.8 143 reviews for Xtampza ER to treat Chronic Pain
Rx N 2 X
Generic name:
oxycodone systemic
Drug class:
Opioids (narcotic analgesics)
For consumers:
dosage, interactions, side effects
For professionals:
Prescribing Information

Frequently asked questions

View more FAQ

Legend

Rating For ratings, users were asked how effective they found the medicine while considering positive/adverse effects and ease of use (1 = not effective, 10 = most effective).
Activity Activity is based on recent site visitor activity relative to other medications in the list.
Rx Prescription only.
OTC Over-the-counter.
Rx/OTC Prescription or Over-the-counter.
Off-label This medication may not be approved by the FDA for the treatment of this condition.
EUA An Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allows the FDA to authorize unapproved medical products or unapproved uses of approved medical products to be used in a declared public health emergency when there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.
Expanded Access Expanded Access is a potential pathway for a patient with a serious or immediately life-threatening disease or condition to gain access to an investigational medical product (drug, biologic, or medical device) for treatment outside of clinical trials when no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy options are available.
Pregnancy Category
A Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus in the first trimester of pregnancy (and there is no evidence of risk in later trimesters).
B Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
C Animal reproduction studies have shown an adverse effect on the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
D There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use in pregnant women despite potential risks.
X Studies in animals or humans have demonstrated fetal abnormalities and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience, and the risks involved in use in pregnant women clearly outweigh potential benefits.
N FDA has not classified the drug.
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) Schedule
M The drug has multiple schedules. The schedule may depend on the exact dosage form or strength of the medication.
U CSA Schedule is unknown.
N Is not subject to the Controlled Substances Act.
1 Has a high potential for abuse. Has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. There is a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision.
2 Has a high potential for abuse. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
3 Has a potential for abuse less than those in schedules 1 and 2. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
4 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 3. It has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 3.
5 Has a low potential for abuse relative to those in schedule 4. Has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Abuse may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to those in schedule 4.
Alcohol
X Interacts with Alcohol.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.