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A-Z of pain
We’re here to help you understand your pain and how you can treat it, that’s why we’ve created this handy guide featuring types of pain and pain relief. From ibuprofen and paracetamol, to drug-free alternatives such as TENS machines, or heat wraps, there are many combination treatments and solutions available to suit you.
Arthritis - Arthritis refers to a group of conditions that relate to joint pain or joint disease. We have put together a wealth of help and support about living with arthritis and joint pain as well as further information about rheumatoid arthritis.
Aspirin - Aspirin is a pain relief medication also known as acetylsalicylic acid (ASA). It is also often used to treat fever, inflammation or thin the blood after a stroke or heart attack. It comes in a variety of forms, including tablets, powders and oral gels. You can browse our full range of aspirin here, which ranges from over the counter products, to stronger doses which can be purchased with an online or in store Pharmacist approval.
Back pain - Back pain can range from tension in the upper back to a sore lower back (lumbago). We’ve put together a range of help, support and pain relief options for back pain here.
Children’s pain - We all know children can experience pain from time to time, and it can be tricky to diagnose their symptoms, especially if they are a baby or toddler. If you are concerned about your child’s pain then you should always seek urgent medical attention or call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency.
If it is not an emergency, your Pharmacist will be more than happy to help advise the best pain relief for your child. For more about children’s pain relief dosage and how to teach your child to communicate their pain, read more about children’s pain here.
Chronic pain - Continuous, long-term pain of usually more that 12 weeks or pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing or subsiding. Chronic pain, such as arthritis, is estimated to affect 13 - 48% of UK population*.
Clove oil - Clove oil, an oil naturally extracted from the clove plant, is traditionally used for the treatment of oral pain. Clove oil has natural anesthetic properties which can help temporarily relieve the pain of toothache. It is also antimicrobial and so sometimes used for acne, scars and warts.
Co-codamol - Co-codamol is a pain relief medicine made up of Codeine Phosphate and Paracetamol. It is a short term treatment for acute-moderate pain and due to its addictive properties should only be used for up to three days. It is a Pharmacy strength medication and so to acquire it you must answer a few questions online and in store to ensure it is suitable for you to take. It can be taken to relieve headaches and migraines, muscular pain, back ache, toothache, rheumatic pain and period pains; though there are milder pain relief options such as ibuprofen, paracetamol and heat packs which we recommend exploring first.
Cold sores - A cold sore, a form of the herpes simplex virus, is an infection of the skin which appears as painful, small blisters on the lips, mouth and tongue. It is very contagious especially when the blisters burst. Find out more about cold sores and treatments here.
Copper bracelets - Copper bracelets are sometimes worn as a drug free, natural relief from aches and pains, such as arthritis and rheumatism. It is thought that the high copper content in the metallic bracelets can naturally relieve joint pain, though recent studies show no concrete evidence of this.*
Cystitis - Cystitis is common type of urinary tract infection (UTI) usually caused by a bladder infection. The inflammation of the bladder can lead to symptoms such as painful urination, needing to urinate more often and generally feeling run down. Read more about cystitis and shop cystitis treatments here.
Diclofenac - Diclofenac is a prescription only NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which can be taken as a tablet or applied as a gel to reduce inflammation. It can also work as an analgesic. A common brand which contains diclofenac is Voltarol gel, which is recommended for rheumatic, joint and muscular sprains, strains and bruises. Volarol gel can be bought over the counter in LloydsPharmacy and online, with the stronger Voltarol options requiring just a few short questions from your Pharmacist.
Earache - Earache can affect one or both of your ears with either a sharp or a dull pain. Common causes include earwax, an ear infection or damage as a result of, for example, scraping with a cotton bud. Painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can help to reduce the pain and any high temperature. You can also combine paracetamol with ibuprofen if you need to.
Endometriosis pain - Endometriosis is a chronic condition that affects women by causing severely painful periods. Find out more about the causes and signs of endometriosis here.
Flarin - Is a prescription strength medicine that you can buy over the counter, it can help to reduce pain, relieve swelling and ease stiffness. You can shop for Flarin here.
Flexiseq - A pain relief gel that helps to ease joint pain and stiffness. The drug-free gel is especially helpful for those who live with osteoarthritis, find out more about the benefits of Flexiseq here.
Gallstones - Gallstones are small stones that form in the gallbladder which are usually made of cholesterol and hardened deposits of digestive fluid. The primary symptom of gallstones is constant abdominal pain, which can’t be relieved by being sick or go to the toilet. The cause of gallstones is thought to be down to a chemical imbalance in the gallbladder, which create crystals that develop into stones. If you think you have gallstones, you should speak to your GP about potential gallstone or gallbladder removal.
Gout - Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis which is caused by excess uric acid in the blood. Symptoms include intense joint pain which is usually present in your feet, especially the big toe. However it can occur in any joint, such as in hands and fingers. Gout can be triggered by food and drink with high purine content, as they can raise uric acid levels. If you experience gout, limiting your purine intake can help avoid triggering an attack.
High to moderate purine products include:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Organ meats such as chicken liver, sweetbreads, kidneys and pigs heart
- Blue cheese
- Sugary drinks
- Some fish and seafood such as sardines, mackerel, mussels, scallops and herring
- Some red meats such as lamb, beef and pork
- Some meat stocks, gravies and broths
Groin pain - The most common cause of groin pain is a pulled muscle, ligament or tendon strain, particularly amongst sports injuries. However there are other medical complaints with symptoms of groin pain, such as kidney stones and hernias. In the first instance, remedies such as heat packs can help ease groin pain. If the pain persists or has no obvious cause, you may wish to book an appointment with your GP.
Headache - There are so many forms and symptoms of headaches, that can be so individual to the person. From cluster and tension headaches to ocular migraines and sinus pain, we’ve put together a helpful support guide to headaches here.
Heartburn - It’s thought that 1 in 5* people will get at least one episode of heartburn a week, while 1 in 10 experience the symptoms on a daily basis*. Heartburn is a common digestive condition that causes burning chest pain or discomfort when stomach acid leaks in to the oesophagus. Most of us experience occasional episodes of heartburn, but if your symptoms are persistent you’ll need the condition to be treated. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help you avoid or treat heartburn if you do get it.
A few simple lifestyle changes could cut your chances of getting heartburn:
- If you’re overweight, losing weight may help your symptoms because it will reduce pressure on your stomach
- If you’re a smoker, think about quitting. Smoking can irritate your digestive system and make symptoms of heartburn worse
- Eat smaller, frequent meals rather than three large meals a day
- Eat your evening meal three to four hours before you go to bed
- Be aware of, and try to avoid, the triggers that make your heartburn worse, such as alcohol, coffee, chocolate, tomatoes, fatty or spicy food
Treatments to control and relieve your heartburn
There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter treatments to help control your heartburn including:
- Antacids - medicines that neutralise the effects of stomach acid. Antacids shouldn’t be taken at the same time as other medicines because they may affect the way they work. They can also damage the special coating on some types of tablets, so ask your GP or pharmacist for more advice.
- Alginates - an alternative type of medicine to antacids. They work by forming a protective layer on top of your stomach content to help reduce reflux.
Heat packs and patches - Heat packs and patches can provide a holistic pain relief option for those seeking a drug free alternative. Heat therapy, which can be applied in activated heat packs as well as warming gels and sprays, works by targeting the pain and help to increase circulation, decrease stiffness and relax sore muscles. As they are free from medication, they can be used alongside your pain medication for additional relief.
Hip pain - If you are experiencing hip pain, there are a number of causes. If it has come on suddenly, after exercise or a minor knock or fall, you may have caused a sports injury, muscle strain or bruised bone. If it is a gradual onset of pain, you may want to ask your GP about other possible causes, such as tendinitis (inflammation of the tendons) or bursitis (inflammation of the liquid sacs which cushion joints, tendons and muscles). Hip pain can also be a symptom of arthritis; you can read more about arthritis and joint pain in our guide.
Holistic pain relief - Holistic pain relief has two definitions:
Holistic therapy often refers to drug free alternatives to medication. Holistic therapies can usually be practiced in addition to other medication options as a personal pain relief package. Why not explore our drug free pain relief options, such as heat packs and TENS machines.
The other definition of holistic is the treatment of a person as a whole; taking into account lifestyle, social and mental health factors as well as the patient’s symptoms. For example, joint pain could also be reduced by switching to a healthier diet to lose weight and in turn, reduce some of the stress on the joints. Or perhaps muscular pain after exercising could be down to poor warming up or cooling down routines.
Ibuprofen - Ibuprofen is often recommended for the relief of headaches, backaches, rheumatic and muscular pain. It is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), which is predominately indicated for pain relief, muscular pain, reduction of inflammation, lowering fevers and preventing blood clots. Shop here to find an ibuprofen which is right for you.
IBS pain relief - IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is a common digestive disorder with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea, cramping and constipation. For pain relief from IBS, treatments such as Buscopan, Colpermin and Imodium can provide an over the counter solution. Improving your diet, avoiding spicy or greasy foods or trying peppermint tea can also help with soothing your digestive system. If the symptoms persist, you may want to consult a doctor who can test you for food intolerances and digestive conditions. It’s also important to note that NSAID painkillers such as ibuprofen are not recommended for those with underlying stomach issues.
Indigestion - Indigestion is caused by acid in your stomach irritating your stomach lining or your throat. In most cases indigestion is related to eating, but it can also be caused by alcohol, smoking or taking certain medications such as NSAID painkillers. Find out more about indigestion here or browse our heartburn and indigestion products here.
Joint pain - If you are experiencing joint pain, there are a number of possible reasons. If it has occurred after minor fall or excess exercise, you may have a sports injury, a sprain or bruised bone. If it is a gradual onset of pain, you may want to ask your GP about other possible causes, such as bursitis, inflammation of the liquid sacs which cushion your joints and tendons. Joint pain can also be a symptom of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; you can read more about arthritis and joint pain in our guides.
Kidney pain - If you are experiencing lower back pain and have ruled out injury or strain, you could have kidney pain. Kidney pain is usually felt deeper than muscular pain and is accompanied by other symptoms. If your pain is associated with painful urination, urinary urgency or cloudy urine, book an appointment with your GP who may be able to diagnose and prescribe antibiotics for a UTI, such as a bladder infection, kidney infection or cystitis.
Another reason for kidney pain is kidney stones, which are made up of calcium or uric acid. They form inside the kidney and can be extremely painful if they travel to the urinary tract. Again, kidney pain can be serious and it’s important to seek medical advice with any concerns.
Lower back pain - Pain in the lower back (lumbago) can be down to a number of causes, such as muscular strains or kidney infections. Find out more about back pain in our handy back pain support guide. If problems persist, be sure to see your GP, especially if you suspect it is a kidney infection which needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Migraines - Discover more about migraines in our helpful migraine support guide.
Neck pain - Known as a stiff neck, neck pain can be caused by your sleeping position, bad posture or an injury such as whiplash. If you’re experiencing neck pain then you can take paracetamol or ibuprofen, you also might want to try applying an ibuprofen gel or heat patch on your neck.
Nurofen - This brand of pain relief tablets that contain aibuprofen to relive pain, swelling and soreness. Nurofen can be used for headaches, back ache, period pain and dental pain. You can shop our range of Nurofen now to find the right treatment for your specific pain. Always read the leaflet for treatment and dosage advice.
NSAID - NSAID stands for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which are predominately recommended for muscular pain, reduction of inflammation, period pains, lowering fevers and preventing blood clots. They can come in the form of capsules, tablets, creams and gels, with common types including ibuprofen, diclofenac and naproxen. They are not suitable for everyone as they can have side effects on those with asthma or digestive problems, such as a history of stomach ulcers or gastritis.
Ocular migraine - These types of migraines affect your vision, causing blind spots, wavy lines or flickering lights. Find out more about the symptoms and what you can do to treat ocular migraines here.
Osteoarthritis - Is the most common form of arthritis and it causes your joints to feel painful and stiff. You may experience swelling, tenderness and a cracking sound when you move the joints that are affected.
Over the counter medicines - 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. Painkillers, like paracetamol, are often used to treat mild to moderate pain. If your pain is accompanied by swelling, you may wish to consider taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or diclofenac.
Pain diary - Keeping a pain diary may help you to identify the cause and triggers of your pain as well as the levels of pain that you experience. Noting the times and days when you experience pain can help you to manage your pain better. You can also take your pain diary to your GP or pharmacist who will be able to offer advice and guidance on how to effectively manage your pain.
Paingone - Designed as a form of fast, effective drug-free pain relief, the Paingone products and pen range can help to reduce the pain you are experiencing. Simply press the tip of the pen onto the area you are experiencing the pain and then press the button around 30 to 40 times. The pen releases electrical discharge which stimulates the body’s natural painkillers – endorphins. You can use the pen as many times as you like and on any part of body you need to, whether you have back or period pain.
Pain management service - Speak to one of our expert pharmacists to discover the ways that you can manage and improve your pain by introducing appropriate medication and lifestyle changes.
Pain triggers - If you can identify what causes or increases your pain you might be able to avoid or minimise the contact with these triggers. For example the cold weather can affect joints, causing them to become more painful, keeping yourself moving and warm can help to alleviate the weather’s affects.
Paracetamol - Typically used to treat mild or moderate pain, including headaches, toothaches and high temperatures. Paracetamol is safe to take for most people, including pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children over two months of age, although lower doses are advised for young children. Always check the packaging for dosage guide lines.
Period pain - Most women experience pain and discomfort during their periods in the form of cramps, back ache, headaches and other period symptoms. If you experience pain every month, make sure you've got the relief you need ready to treat your symptoms from ibuprofen to hot water bottles. Our period cramps page has lots of helpful tips and advice to help you feel better.
Pharmacy strength medication (P-Med) - These are medications are the strongest pain relief that you can buy from your pharmacy without the need for a prescription. P-meds tend to contain a higher strength or they come in a larger pack size. You might need something stronger for your pain if you’ve tried some over the counter medicines or drug-free treatments and they aren’t working for you. Pharmacy strength medicines are only available from the pharmacy counter, so speak to your Pharmacist if you’d like to find out more.
Pregnancy and pain relief - Ideally you should avoid taking medicine during your first three months of pregnancy. If you’re pregnant and experiencing mild or moderate pain or a high temperature then paracetamol is usually safe to take. However you should always consult your midwife or GP for advice.
Quad strain - If you are having pain in your quadriceps muscles, you may have experienced an exercise injury or strain. Quads are found at the top of the leg and thigh, above the knee joint. Common symptoms of a quad strain are tightness, twinges and overall pain in the front of the or when extending the knee, whilst walking, running or bearing weight. It is important to seek first aid as soon as possible to help with recovery. For muscle strains, you can follow the R.I.C.E plan of rest, ice, compression and elevation, such as an ice pack and resting up on a cushion.
Revitive - Revitive products are designed to help improve your circulation and reduce pain. The circulation boosters, in particular can help to ease leg pain, alleviate cramps while strengthening your leg muscles.
Rheumatoid arthritis - Can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. This form of arthritis is a long-term condition that affects the hands, feet and wrists. If you would like to know more about the signs and causes we have a handy guide about rheumatoid arthritis.
Sciatica - The sciatic nerve runs from your hips to your feet and can become irritated causing you pain in your legs, bottom and feet and toes. Find out more about how you can ease pain caused by sciatica in our article.
Side stitch - Is a sharp stabbing pain that occurs under your ribcage, on one side after or during exercise, it’s also known as side cramp or a stitch.
Sinus pain - Is often caused by a swelling of the sinuses due to an infection, you might find that you experience this type of pain after a cold or flu. To find out more about the treatment and symptoms of sinus pain visit our sinusitis page.
Sore throat - Most adults will get the occasional sore throat and they usually go away in a week. There are also lots of products that you can buy in your local pharmacy to help ease the pain and swelling.
Stomach pain - Stomach aches or pains can be caused by a variety of circumstances from the food you eat to viruses. Stomach pain could be associated with your period, indigestion, constipation or heartburn. However if you are concerned see your GP or in an emergency call 999 or got to A&E, especially if your pain is severe, comes on suddenly or you are vomiting blood.
TENS machine - Is a great option if you’re looking for drug-free way of relieving your pain, or for a remedy that you can use alongside medication. Find out how TENS machines use electricity to treat pain in this article.
Thermacare - Using heat is a well know pain remedy, and these heat wraps are a great way to ease muscular pain in your lower back of hips.
Tiger balm - A drug-free pain relief ointment that uses natural herbal ingredients to relieve aches, pains and swelling. Tiger Balm can also be used alongside traditional medicines, such as paracetamol as a way to boost your pain relief.
Toothache - If you have toothache it's important to see your dentist as soon as possible. If you don't have a dentist ask our pharmacy team for details about local dentists or you can use the NHS tool to find a dentist near you. We also have a toothache page with treatment and advice to help you ease your pain.
Ulcers - Ulcers are open sores that can occur within the lining of the mouth, they can be caused by stress, badly fitting dentures and food allergies. Mouth ulcers are common and usually clear up on their own, however you can use cream, such as Bonjela or gels such as Iglu to ease the pain. Shop our NHS tool to find a dentist near you. We also have a full range of ulcer treatments.
Upper back pain - Pain in this part of the body is often caused by strained or stretched muscles as well as bad posture. Find out more about the symptoms, treatments and causes of back pain here.
Vestibular migraine - This type of migraine causes dizziness, vertigo and nausea amongst other symptoms. Find out more about the symptoms and causes of vestibular migraines here.
Voltarol - Specially formulated to offer effective pain relief, Voltarol gels can help to reduce inflammation while easing muscular and back pain.
Wheat bag - A wheat warmer or cushion can be heated at your home and applied to sore, aching muscles. The heat can help relieve pain as well as soothe away any stress you may be feeling.
Wisdom tooth - When your wisdom teeth grow at the back of your mouth and break through your gums they can be painful. They’re the last teeth to grow and usually arrive in your late teens or early twenties. To find out how you can soothe wisdom teeth visit our toothache page.
X-ray - X rays can be used to understand breaks and fractures in bones, as well as detect gallstones and kidney stones. Visit your doctor who may be able to refer you to a hospital X ray appointment to get specialist information on pains that you may have.
Yoga - Yoga is a great exercise that can help with flexibility, posture and balance. The poses allow you to stretch and strengthen certain muscles which in turn could help to ease pain and promote relaxation. Find out more about yoga and its benefits here.
Zzz - Z is for zzzs or sleep. Sleep has a whole host of benefits, our bodies need to refresh and they do this at night by renewing cells. Making sure that you get enough sleep can help you to feel better and more able to tackle whatever comes your way.