Understanding nerve pain medication
Nerve pain is also called neuropathic pain. It can be caused by a number of conditions. Sometimes the cause is not known.
There are many treatments for nerve pain. Medication alone is not usually the answer. It can usually only partially relieve the pain. You also need to develop pain management strategies to help you cope. These may include exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy and meditation.
Sometimes the pain can be treated directly if the cause is known. Managing the cause, if it is known, may reduce the pain. Acupuncture and relaxation techniques can help.
Types of nerve pain medicines
Pain relief medications like paracetamol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioid medications don’t usually work for nerve pain. The best medications for nerve pain are prescribed by a doctor. They are medicines that are also used in other conditions:
- The antidepressant medicines amitriptyline and duloxetine.
- Medicines used for seizures (epilepsy), gabapentin and pregabalin.
Other medications that may work are tramadol, lignocaine, capsaicin and botulinum toxin A.
Important information about nerve pain medication
All medicines can have side effects. Nerve pain medications may not ease the pain immediately. It’s important to build up the dose slowly so the side effects don’t outweigh the benefits.
You can ask your doctor or pharmacist about:
- the side effects of your nerve pain medicines
- the benefits
- what to do if you miss a dose
- what to do if you experience side effects
Talk to your doctor if you feel unwell when taking your medicines.
Do not stop or change your medicines without talking to your doctor.
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Last reviewed: March 2020