According to News Medical, 85% of people with pain don’t receive the appropriate treatment.

Living with pain can take its toll, but there are lots of things you can do to manage your pain.

Understanding the different pain relief options can seem daunting and you may not be sure which treatment is right for you. So we are here to help you choose pain relief to suits your needs.

How to choose the right pain relief by cause of pain:

Our pharmacist Anshu Bhimbat gives her advice on tackling the five most common causes of pain

Headaches

Half the population has had a headache over the past year with an unlucky one in 20 experiencing one almost every day, according to the World Health Organization. Our pharmacist Anshu Bhimbat explains: “Tension is the main cause of headaches but many things, including dehydration, poor posture, sensitivity to foods or smells, eyestrain, toothache, earache or even missed sleep can trigger them.”

What’s the best treatment?

Ask your pharmacist’s advice about over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or co-codamol – a combination of paracetamol and codeine. (Please note: because codeine is potentially addictive, it shouldn’t be taken for more than three days in a row.)

“It’s also important not to take painkillers on more than 15 days per month as this can cause headaches from medication overuse,” explains Anshu. A drug-free option such as the 4head Effective Headache Relief Stick, helps to block pain signals when applied to your forehead.

Other advice for combatting headaches includes, “drinking plenty of water, checking your posture and addressing stress with regular relaxation and exercise,” she adds.

If you’re getting headaches on more than 15 days per month, you’ve had a recent head injury, the pain is sudden or severe, or you have other, unexplained symptoms, you should see your GP.

Migraines

Around one in seven people experiences migraines. This is a neurological condition, which usually involves a severe headache, often with nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light or sound and sometimes visual disturbances. Interestingly, some people don’t experience a headache with a migraine but get all the other symptoms. It’s twice as common in women than men, and can be triggered by certain foods, hormonal changes and emotional stress, among many other things.

What’s the best treatment?

There’s Migraleve Pink, a combination of paracetamol, codeine and anti-sickness medication,” explains Anshu. Which you could try alongside Kool ‘n’ Soother, which helps with immediate cooling relief.

Another good tip is to keep a diary to help you spot your triggers. This can go a long way to helping you manage your condition. Download our Pain diary here.

(Please note: you should see your GP if you need to use migraine medication on more than 10 days a month, symptoms have suddenly started, become worse, or you have new symptoms.)

Backache

An estimated 80% of people will get backache at some point in their lives. The most common causes include strains from lifting, poor posture or sitting for long periods.

What’s the best treatment?

Try nurofen plus as well as a heat pack to improve blood flow and encourage healing, such as ThermaCare.

Research shows that too much rest makes backache worse, so avoid the temptation to keep still and try some gentle movement and stretching to keep you mobile.

Joint Pain

Injury and arthritis are the main causes of painful joints. The joints are prone to wear and tear as we age, which can lead to osteoarthritis. According to the NHS this is the most common type of arthritis and affects eight million people in the UK.

What’s the best treatment?

If you have injured or sprained the joint, “rest the limb for 48 to 72 hours after an injury,” says Anshu. “Use a cold pack for 15-20 minutes every two to three hours during the day. Bandage it to contain swelling and keep it raised if possible.” It’s best to start using the joint soon to keep it mobile, but see your GP if there’s no improvement.

Your GP can advise on the best painkillers for arthritis, but you can also use drug-free treatments such as Flexiseq Gel, which lubricates the joints, and the ActiPatch Joint Pain Relief Kit, which uses electromagnetic pulse therapy to reduce inflammation and combat pain. For more information on managing arthritis, visit: Arthritis Research UK

Stomach Pain

Stomach ache is usually short-lived and caused by trapped wind, indigestion or constipation. Food poisoning can sometimes be the problem, in which case you’ll also experience diarrhoea and possibly vomiting.

However, pain, bloating, wind, diarrhoea and constipation that occur regularly can be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects 10-20% of us. It has no specific cause but is often made worse by stress or intolerance to certain foods.

Sometimes stomach pain can be a sign of more serious conditions such as appendicitis, stomach ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, or even cancer.

What’s the best treatment?

“Your pharmacist can advise on over-the-counter treatment for diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion and vomiting,” says Anshu. But you should see your GP to investigate any unexplained and ongoing symptoms. If serious conditions are ruled out, you may be diagnosed with IBS. Buscopan IBS Relief is an over-the-counter medication that can help with painful cramps, plus the IBS Network has lots of advice about how to manage the symptoms, including stress relief and diets that can help you pinpoint problem foods.

From topical gels, to drug-free alternatives such as TENS machines or heat wraps, there are a range of treatments available to help you manage your pain. Here’s our guide to help you understand those options.

Different types of pain relief:

 

Over the counter pain relief

Buying medication over the counter means you don’t need a prescription, but it’s still important to talk to your Pharmacist about which treatment will be best for you. Pain relief medication, like paracetamol, are often used to treat mild to moderate pain.

LloydsPharmacy Paracetamol
Easy to swallow caplets for the relief of mild to moderate pain relief including aches and pains.

LloydsPharmacy Ibuprofen
For the relief of headaches, backaches, rheumatic and muscular pain.

Drug-free pain relief

If you’re looking to ease your pain without medication, there are various options out there if you want to try drug-free alternatives or something to use in combination with medication.

Here are some things you can try:

LloydsPharmacy Pain Reliever Wireless TENS

The Pain Reliever Wireless TENS helps to ease aches in the lower back, hips, elbows, and pain associated with strains and sprains. It comes with a wireless remote control and is good for people who need pain relief from sports injuries as well as those who suffer from joint pain as a result of a long-term condition.

ThermaCare Heat Wraps

The heat wraps deliver heat deep into tissue, warming the muscle right where it hurts to relax, soothe and unlock tight muscles. They come in different sizes specifically designed for different parts of the body with elasticity for a better fit e.g. hip, back or neck. The wraps are also thin enough to wear discreetly under clothing and are flexible so you can wear on the move!

FLEXISEQ

FLEXISEQ is a topically applied gel specially formulated to combat pain and stiffness in your joints. Daily application in the morning and evening is enough to start to bring about real improvement in joint pain in as little as two days. It is suitable for all osteoarthritis patients and is a safe, drug-free gel that avoids the heart and stomach risks common to most osteoarthritis drug treatments. Flexiseq can be used safely with medicines for osteoarthritis and/or other medical conditions.

Topical treatments for joint pain

Topical treatments, those that are applied directly to the area, are commonly used for joint pain. Hand and knee osteoarthritis is usually treated with creams containing NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug). If these are not effective then your doctor can prescribe other medication.

Pharmacy strength medication

You might need something stronger for your pain if you’ve tried over the counter medicines or drug-free treatments and they aren’t working for you. Pharmacy strength medications are only available from the pharmacy counter, so speak to your Pharmacist if you’d like to find out more.

Prescription Medicines

Sometimes if you have already tried over the counter medicines or other methods and if your GP thinks it will be beneficial, they may recommend trying prescription medication.

These medicines are often opioid analgesics that work by mimicking endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, to help reduce the feeling of pain. Your GP will usually start you on a low dose to help limit side effects, and you should check in with your doctor or pharmacist on a regular basis, to make sure that the course of treatment is working for you and helping you to manage your pain well enough.

If you have already been prescribed medication to help relieve your pain and you feel it is not working or you are experiencing side effects, pop into your local LloydsPharmacy for a FREE Medicines Check Up.

LloydsPharmacy Medicines Check Up

A Medicines Check Up can help you to understand if you are taking your medicines properly and are getting the most from them. During a private consultation with our pharmacist you can talk about any queries you may have.

Other help around the home

From ergonomic jar openers to mobility scooters, Betterlife from LloydsPharmacy offers products designed to help support better mobility either around the home or when out and about which can make a huge difference to people living with pain.

Uccello Power Pour Kettle Tipper

The Uccello Power Pour Kettle Tipper for example, offers a stable way of pouring hot water without lifting any weight, which can be a huge help for people with pain in their wrists.

Betterlife Handi-grip Grabber

Designed for maximum usability, the Handi-Grip has no end to the places you will be able to reach safely – high or low, between narrow gaps, awkward places and guaranteed to grip even the smallest of items. It has a comfortable rubber handle with simple trigger action and is ideal for those with arthritic hands or restricted hand movement