What are the different types of pain medications?

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RussellPortenoyMD (Physician - Hospice / Palliative Care (Verified) ) - 07 / 22 / 2012

There are three categories of pain medications: “Non-opioid” drugs include the many nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen or naproxen) and acetaminophen. So-called “adjuvant drugs” are a large group of drug classes and individual drugs that are mostly on the market to manage conditions other than pain but have been found through studies and experience to be analgesic in some situations. The adjuvant analgesics that are used in cancer pain management most frequently include the corticosteroids (such as dexamethasone), the analgesic antidepressants (such as duloxetine and desipramine), and the anticonvulsants (such as gabapentin and pregabalin). Finally, “opioids” are drugs that bind to opioid receptors in the body; the pure mu agonist opioids, the prototype of which is morphine, are the major drugs used to treat acute pain and chronic pain due to active cancer.
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