What Are the Names of Common Painkillers?

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Painkiller is a term that is often used to cover a number of different medications and drugs. Many substances also fall into this drug category, but not all of these are actually narcotics. It is important to know the common pain drug names as well as their status, drug class, and potential for abuse.

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Pain Relievers vs. Painkillers

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Pain relievers are medicines that reduce or relieve headaches, sore muscles, arthritis, or other aches.” A person may be given one of these drugs for an acute or for a chronic issue.

Pain reliever is often used as a more blanket term while painkiller may be used to describe a more specific type of drug class: narcotics. However, since both can be used interchangeably, it is important to be aware of the types of drugs one may be referring to when mentioning either of these terms.

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These three categories cover the most common types of pain reliever/killer drugs. Depending on the intensity, severity, frequency, etc. of your pain, you may need a more intense medication or a less intense one, but all the drug types above do treat this specific issue to a certain extent.

OTC Pain Medications

Common Painkillers

Aspirin is a common over-the-counter pain medication.

There are a number of medications that fall under the category of OTC pain relievers. According to the NLM, it is still very important to take these medications as directed, even though they are available over-the-counter.

One can find out how much of a drug is recommended for their specific situation by reading the label that comes with the medication. The names of some of the most common OTC pain medications include:


Acetaminophen is a non-aspirin pain reliever. Usually, medications containing acetaminophen are beneficial for relieving fevers and headaches. Acetaminophen is often found in OTC cold and flu medications as well. Popular brands include:

  • Tylenol
  • Pain-Eze
  • Excedrin
  • Midol
  • Tempra
  • Sudafed
  • Nyquil/Dayquil


NSAIDS are another type of pain reliever. These drugs reduce headaches as well as other types of aches and discomforts. They can also reduce inflammation. There are three common types of NSAIDS and common brand names associated with them.

  • Ibuprofen
    • Advil
    • Motrin
  • Naproxen sodium
    • Aleve
  • Aspirin
    • Ascriptin
    • Bayer
    • Ecotrin

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Prescription NSAIDS

As stated above, a person can be prescribed stronger NSAIDS that can treat more intense pain as well as other symptoms. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “NSAIDS are among the most frequently prescribed drugs worldwide and rarely cause drug induced liver disease.” As stated by the US Food and Drug Administration, these can include a number of specific, brand name and generic drugs, including:

  • Brand: Toradol
    • Generic: Ketorolac
  • Brand: Naprosyn
    • Generic: Naproxen
  • Brand: Dolobid
    • Generic: Difunisal
  • Brand: Mobic


Narcotics are some of the most commonly prescribed painkillers, and these drugs are more intense than any other type of medication in this category. If a person is dealing with severe or chronic pain, they may be prescribed a narcotic, but it is important that they take it exactly as prescribed so as not to experience issues with abuse and/or addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, common narcotic medications include:

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Sometimes, a narcotic is prescribed along with an NSAID or acetaminophen (like Percocet, which contains acetaminophen and oxycodone). These drugs are also only available by prescription because of the narcotic they contain.

Any type of pain reliever or painkiller, however, should be taken as suggested or prescribed. No matter how mild the drug, it could still cause intense side effects if abused or taken accidentally in too high of a dose.

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If you have been misusing pain medications and need help, call 800-407-7195(Who Answers?) now. We will connect you with a rehab program where you can begin your journey toward recovery.

the Take-Away

There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription pain medications to choose from, depending on the severity of one’s pain.