OTC Pain Relievers and Fever Reducers (cont.)

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Pain can be classified as acute, chronic non-malignant, chronic malignant. Headaches are the most common cause of pain and can be considered a separate class of pain.

Acute pain

Acute pain is experienced by everyone; it is usually short in duration with an identifiable pathology, a predictable prognosis, and treatment that usually includes analgesics. Acute pain is most often due to injuries. Examples of injuries include:

  • muscle soreness due to overuse, sprains or strains, or viral infections,
  • tears of the ligaments,
  • broken bones,
  • bruises, and
  • cuts.

Acute pain from such injuries can respond well to OTC pain medication. Muscle soreness also may respond well to heat and massage.

Chronic non-malignant pain

Chronic non-malignant pain often begins as acute pain, but it continues beyond the typical time expected for resolution of the problem or persists or recurs for other reasons. It is a type of pain associated with progressive, debilitating diseases such as arthritis. Treatment for chronic non-malignant pain can include OTC medications . However, because of the chronic nature of the pain, regular use of OTC medications can lead to side effects.

Chronic malignant pain

Chronic malignant pain is pain associated with advanced, progressive diseases (often fatal) such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS, and terminal kidney disease. OTC medications for pain may be useful for the management of chronic malignant pain. However, stronger prescription medications are usually necessary.

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