Information for the public
Early pain relief
Some treatments may not be suitable for you, depending on your exact circumstances. If you have questions about specific treatments and options, please talk to a member of your healthcare team.
The type of pain relief you are offered will depend on how bad the pain is, which painkillers are suitable for you, whether you have taken any painkillers before arriving at hospital, and your individual care plan (if you have one).
You should be offered a strong opioid if your pain is very intense ('severe'). You should also be offered a strong opioid if your pain is still fairly bad ('moderate') even though you have already taken some pain relief. The strong opioid should be given as a single dose over a short period of time, so that it works quickly. This is known as a bolus dose.
If your pain is moderate and you have not yet taken any pain relief, you may be offered a weak opioid as an alternative to a strong opioid.
You should also be offered regular paracetamol and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), as well as an opioid, to help with pain relief. However, there may be times when these are not suitable for you – for example, NSAIDs should usually be avoided if you are pregnant.
You should not be offered a drug called pethidine for pain relief.