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Does chronic pain mean you have to take narcotics for the rest of your life? What about side effects? With so many types of drugs available for chronic pain (NSAIDs, antidepressants, etc.), the process of finding the right medication(s) can be challenging. You and your doctor will work together to tailor a plan that is right for you -- but it may involve some trial and error.


Medications for Treating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is pain that persists over a long period of time, which is usually defined as at least three to six months. There are numerous possible causes. Often, the pain is caused by a chronic medical condition. However, chronic pain can also be the result of damage to the body that occurred from a short-term illness or accident. In some cases, the exact cause is never identified.  
Millions of people live with chronic pain each day and are affected by it in nearly every aspect of their lives. Chronic pain can affect a person's ability to work, their relationships, and their overall health and well-being.
While it is not always possible to completely get rid of chronic pain, effective treatment can help reduce a person's symptoms and improve their ability to function on a day-to-day basis. Several treatment options are available for people with chronic pain. Most people will need medicines to effectively control their pain. These medications can generally be divided into categories based on the way they work.
Some of the most common categories of pain medicine include the following:
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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