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What Are Non-Opioid Analgesics?

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Updated May 16, 2014

Definition: Non-opioid analgesics are pain medications for mild to moderate pain. Non-opioid analgesics include NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, as well as other analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin. These medications also include adjuvant analgesics, which are those that relieve pain even though pain relief is not their primary purpose. Examples include antidepressants and anticonvulsants, both regularly used to treat certain types of chronic pain.

Non-opioid analgesics may be short-acting or long-acting pain medications. They may be taken alone for pain management, though they may also be taken in combination with opioids to relieve moderate to severe pain.

Non-opioid analgesics, such as low-dose naproxen and aspirin, are readily available over-the-counter, though many stronger forms may require a doctor’s prescription. A prescription is required for adjuvant analgesics.

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