Jeremy Ohara

Jeremy Ohara

The Benefits and Risks of Pain Relief Medications

  Jan 17, 2024
Reviewed by Ravinder Kaur

Pain relief medications are helpful in managing short and long-term pain, as either they attack the root cause of the pain or they numb the sensation. There are two types of painkillers which include Over-the-counter and prescribed. They possess possible side effects along with numerous benefits, like improvements in your well-being. To make an informed decision, it is essential for healthcare professionals and individuals to understand their benefits and risks. 

This article will enlighten you about the benefits and risks of taking pain relief medications, along with their effectiveness and side effects. 

Common Types of Pain Relief Medications

Several types of remedies are available, including the following:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

These drugs are commonly consumed to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Their work includes obstructing the enzyme Cyclooxygenase (COX), which is responsible for producing Prostaglandins. NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen, block this production, which is responsible for causing pain or swelling. 

Of course, there are some side effects to consuming them, like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, or headaches. Consuming them, in the long run, can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. 


These drugs are abstracted from the poppy plant and cause euphoria, besides easing your pain. Some examples are Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (Percocet), Morphine, Codeine, and Fentanyl. One should be cautious of consuming them and should only be taken by the doctor’s prescription as they can be highly addictive. 

The aftermath of these medications includes drowsiness, nausea, constipation, dizziness, and confusion. Persistent use of this drug can lead to decreased fertility in both men and women and is prone to cardiovascular disease or stroke as it affects the blood pressure. 

Go through this website, to know more about this drug.


This drug is often used to manage minor aches. Easily available over the counter, it is used in combination with other drugs like opioids. They soothe pain associated with arthritis, headaches, muscle aches, colds, and flu by blocking certain chemicals which cause pain and inflammation. Oversedation of the drugs leads to liver damage or failure. 

Topical Analgesics

This medication is applied to the affected area in the form of a cream, gel, spray, or powder used in the conditions like minor muscle/joint pain, Morton’s Neuroma, etc. Topical analgesics like Qutenza, and Myoflex Cream work by getting absorbed by the skin and then acting on the tissue beneath. 

Side effects of these drugs include burning, stinging, skin dryness, or redness. However, they are much safer than oral pain medication as they have a low possibility of overdose. Temporarily giving mild relief, these products offer an alternative to nonpharmacologic treatment options.


Box of pills

The following are the benefits that these medications provide:

Reduction of Pain Intensity

These medications work in various ways depending on the type and severity of the condition. Aspirin and NSAIDs help to reduce inflammation and pain sensation. On the other hand opioid medicines work by altering the pain messages in the brain. 

Facilitation of Recovery and Rehabilitation

They accelerate the rehabilitation process and help in reducing pain and inflammation. They are known to provide comfort during the healing process, helping you to take proper rest.

Improvement of Quality of Life

Of course, these pain medications help in restoring the functionality of a person which allows the patient to fully enjoy recreational activity. This has a direct consequence in improving their sleep patterns and mood. Consuming medications enable a person to stick to their daily routine while avoiding disruptions.

Risks and Side Effects

Don’t take too many painkillers

Pain relief medication has potential risks and side effects, including the following.

Gastrointestinal Issues

The most common side effects are nausea, vomiting, constipation, aches, indigestion, bloating, and other digestive problems. Moreover, there are risks of serious complications like stomach or intestine bleeding, and ulcers in the stomach lining. 

Cardiovascular Risks

There exists a high risk of heart attack and stroke in consuming these medications depending upon their dosage and their type. National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that more than 130 people die in the United States due to opioid overuse.

Kidney and Liver Damage

According to the National Kidney Foundation, approx 3%-5% of kidney failure occurs due to the overuse of these painkillers. These drugs, if used in an abusive way, have harmful effects on kidney tissue and structures and reduce the blood flow to the kidney. 

Dependency and Addiction

Yes, these painkillers provide you with much-needed relief but there is a dark side to this. If you are not cautious, you can suffer from drug addiction. About 0.5 million deaths occur every year around the globe from drug addiction

Consuming painkillers affects our nervous system by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Consistent use of painkillers like opioids leads to physical dependence and increased.

Allergic Reactions

Allergy is caused when our immune system recognizes a drug as a harmful substance. Indicators of drug allergy are rash, fever, hives, swelling, and watery eyes.  The severe condition one can encounter is anaphylaxis where the body system dysfunctions. 

Immediately consult a doctor if you see negative signs after taking medication.

Interactions with Other Medications

Also known as drug-drug interaction, it results in improper functioning of the drugs. For example, if NSAIDs are taken together with diuretics or certain blood-pressure-lowering drugs, there is a risk of kidney damage. The cancer drugs increase the chances of kidney-damaging effects of acetaminophen. It is safer to consult a doctor if you start taking any medicines. 

Considerations for Safe Use

Consult a doctor

A few steps to be kept in mind before using these painkillers are as follows:

Importance of Following Prescribed Dosage and Instructions

One can only achieve positive outcomes and stay clear of the side effects when these medications are taken in the right amount. Doctors assign your medications based on your health condition and if you fail to follow these suggestions, it can result in worsening your health and unwanted side effects. 

Consulting Healthcare Professionals for Guidance

Professional healthcare providers guidance and prescribes medicines based on your condition so that they can treat you without potential risks.  They also provide you support throughout your medical journey and monitor your health for any adverse side effects. Be honest when consulting with a healthcare professional to avoid any health risks.

Proper Storage and Disposal of Medications

This is as important as keeping milk in the fridge. Medications should be kept in a cool, dry place away from light exposure and out of reach of children. Avoid flushing medicine down the drain or toilet as it can have a harmful effect on the environment.  You can dispose of the medicine by mixing it with dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds. There are “take-back” programs in some of the pharmacies, to dispose of unused or expired medicines.


Every coin has two sides and the same goes for these medications. Although they soothe pain temporarily but if not consumed in proper dosage it can lead to side effects and addiction. In the United States, approx 125,000 people die from not consuming medications as consulted by their doctor. Discuss your health conditions with professional healthcare before taking any medicines. As Mahatma Gandhi said ‘It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.’