UM Pain specialists use a number of pain management tools individually, or in combination, to help patients manage chronic pain and restore function. Pain medications, often working in conjunctions with other therapies, are one element of that toolkit.

As part of a comprehensive pain management plan, your board-certified pain specialist may prescribe one or more pain these types of pain medications.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs)

These pain medicines are often the first line of medicinal defense, since they treat inflammation too. You can purchase ibuprofen, a common NSAID, over the counter, but stronger dosages require a prescription.


The link between depression and pain may be both psychological and biological. Research suggests that antidepressants may increase neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that reduce pain signals.

Pain caused by arthritis, migraines, diabetic neuropathy and other nerve problems may respond to these medications.

Relief is not immediate. Generally, you may need to be on the medication for several weeks.

Anticonvulsant Medications

Also called anti-seizure medicines, these prescription drugs can help ease back pain, migraines and nerve pain. Similar to antidepressants, anticonvulsant medications, research suggests, may block the transmission of pain signals. Your pain specialist may use a combination of antidepressants and anticonvulsants. 

Opioids (Narcotics)

The previously mentioned non-narcotic medications are the first choice when developing your individual treatment plan. Narcotics alter the perception of pain by reducing the intensity of pain signals sent to the brain.

Long-term use of opioids can cause complications like tolerance to the drug (and, in turn, decreased effectiveness) or addiction. If we prescribe opioids, our pain management team will monitor you closely to prevent these undesirable complications.