Effective non-narcotic pain relievers include antidepressants, pain relief creams, skin patches, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin. The best option is ultimately dependent on the type and level of pain experienced by the patient, explains WebMD.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -known as NSAIDs- are used by up to one-third of Americans over the age of 65 each day. The drugs reduce general pain by blocking the production of prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that causes pain receptors in damaged areas to become more sensitive, explains Health Magazine.
Antidepressants are prescribed in low doses -most often smaller than those administered to patients suffering from depression- for chronic and general pain, according to WebMD. They are often given to patients that are not benefiting from other treatments and work by adjusting the levels of chemicals in the brain playing a role in pain management.
Pain relief creams -or topical pain relievers- contain active ingredients that decrease inflammation and reduce the transport of pain-relaying chemicals in the brain.
Skin patches are also applied topically, and approved by the Food and Drug Administration as an effective treatment for chronic nerve pain.