What Is a Mild Pain Reliever? NSAIDs

Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
What Is a Mild Pain Reliever
Pain relievers ease discomfort caused by injury, illness, chronic health conditions, or surgery. Learn about mild vs. strong pain relievers and what to keep in mind when taking them

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and naproxen are mild pain relievers that are commonly used to treat pain caused by muscle sprains, back injuries, and menstrual cramps.

Learn about mild vs. strong pain relievers and what to keep in mind when taking them.

What are pain relievers?

Pain relievers, also known as painkillers or pain medications, ease discomfort caused by injury, illness, chronic health conditions, or surgery. 

Pain relievers are sold under a variety of brand names and can usually be taken as a pill or tablet, as an injection, or as a suppository. Painkillers are also available in the form of ointments, patches, and creams.

What are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by lowering the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that irritate nerve endings and cause pain and inflammation. These pain relievers inhibit the effect of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes, which are responsible for producing prostaglandins. 

NSAIDs are often prescribed for people with muscle and joint pain caused by arthritis.  Acetaminophen is often prescribed to treat mild to moderate aches. However, an overdose of acetaminophen can lead to liver damage and even death in some cases.

Some of the potential side effects associated with the use of NSAIDs include:

People with stomach ulcers should avoid using NSAIDs for pain relief. 

What are strong pain relievers?

Opioids are strong painkillers and include codeine, fentanyl, morphine, and hydrocodone

Opioids work by binding to the central nervous system and changing your perception of pain, reducing pain sensations and increasing your tolerance for pain. These drugs may be prescribed for severe injuries, surgery, or cancer.

Side effects of opioids include:

Opioids are generally prescribed only as a last resort because they can be addictive.

What precautions should you take when it comes to pain medications?

Painkillers should be taken only as prescribed by your medical advisor. 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids can damage your liver and other organs. Prolonged use of painkillers also increases the risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and other health complications. Taking painkillers such as NSAIDs and opioids during early pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. 

If you develop allergic reactions or observe symptoms such as blurred vision, urinary tract infections, difficulty breathing, slurred speech, numbness, paralysis, or severe gastrointestinal distress, seek medical assistance immediately. 

Children and people with a history of chronic conditions should consult their doctors before changing or trying a new pain medication.


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Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
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