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What are Long-Acting Pain Medications?

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Updated June 30, 2009

Definition: Long-acting pain medications stay in your system for a long period of time, usually several hours. Your long-acting pain medication may be an NSAID, an opioid or a non-opioid analgesic.

Many long-acting pain medications last for 8 to 12 hours. However, some pain medications that are available in patch form may be effective for a few days at a time. You may take long-acting pain medication on its own, or it may be combined with a short-acting pain medication, especially if you are prone to breakthrough pain.

Most long-acting pain medications are either taken by mouth or applied to the skin in patch form.

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