Drugs That Treat Pain (Analgesic Drugs)

NOTE: Also see non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.


Morphine Sulfate - Morphine sulfate is reserved for the most severe pain syndromes. It is a very safe medication and clinically is one of the most useful pain relievers for cancer related pain syndromes.

Fentanyl - Pain relief for short duration surgery, pain relief for minor procedures, post-operative delirium, transdermal for management of chronic pain syndromes

Meperidine - Pain, pre-operative sedation, during anesthetic, pain relief during chilbirth

What is an analgesic drug?

Analgesic drugs help stop pain. Because pain is common during acute illness, injury and following operations, analgesic drugs are frequently used in the ICU. These drugs are usually given intravenously in the ICU, but can also be given by mouth, as a skin patch, or through a special catheter in the lower part of the back called an epidural catheter. Medication doses are adjusted depending upon the severity of the pain.

Why is it given?

The doctor prescribes this drug to reduce pain felt by the patient or when the patient's condition is known to be associated with pain.

How long is it used?

This depends upon how the patient feels. Pain medication is usually only needed for a short period of time. Under some circumstances, however, it might be used indefinitely.

Does it have side effects?

These types of pain medicines do have side effects. Common side effects include sedation, constipation, and occasionally nausea (upset stomach).