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Medications can make a great difference when taken as directed.

Following orthopedic surgery or an orthopedic injury, patients typically need pain management. There are several medication options that doctors might consider.

Having some general information about these medicines can help patients to make the best choice.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications

These medicines work to alleviate inflammation to reduce pain. Over-the-counter options include naproxen and ibuprofen. Examples of prescription medicines include meloxicam. These might be prescribed when patients are recovering from certain procedures or due to injuries, such as soft tissue injury or a broken bone.


These are medications that are typically prescribed for seizures. However, they can be helpful for nerve pain for some patients. They act on nerve cell impulses, but exactly how they do this is not fully understood. Doctors might prescribe this for spinal cord injury pain or pain related to diabetic neuropathy. Examples include pregabalin and gabapentin.

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Pain Relievers

Pain relievers range from over-the-counter medicines, such as acetaminophen, to opioid medications, such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Acetaminophen might be considered when pain is mild to moderate. For patients experiencing moderate to severe pain, doctors might recommend an opioid pain reliever. However, opioids are typically only used for a short period of time.


Corticosteroids work to alleviate inflammation. They are powerful medicines that help to reduce swelling when it is severe. They control inflammation by altering the immune response. These may be injected or taken orally in the form of a pill. There are several conditions doctors might prescribe this medicine for, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tendonitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Synovitis

These drugs are typically taken short-term to reduce acute inflammation. Examples include methylprednisolone, prednisone and cortisone.

Muscle Relaxers

Muscle relaxers can decrease pain by alleviating muscle spasticity and muscle spasms. They may be prescribed for pain in the back, neck, or extremities. These may be given along with another pain reliever or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.

There are two primary types, including antispastic drugs and antispasmodic drugs. Antispastic drugs work on muscle spasticity and are not typically used for spasms. There are several options and how many of them function is not fully understood. It is believed that they reduce spasticity by blocking certain nerve signals. Examples include dantrolene and baclofen.

The antispasmodic type is believed to work by preventing pain signals or causing a sedative effect. These are typically only used short-term. Examples include carisoprodol, tizanidine and cyclobenzaprine.


Some patients with chronic pain related to orthopedic injuries or conditions may benefit from antidepressants. Doctors may prescribe them for the following:

It is not fully known what the painkilling mechanism for these drugs is. However, doctors believe that they increase the number of neurotransmitters to decrease pain signals. It may take patients several weeks before they start to notice a difference in their pain levels.