Treating mild pain

Medications used to control mild pain include paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These types of drugs are excellent at relieving certain types of pain, such as bone pain, muscle pain and pain in the skin or the lining of the mouth.

They can also be used with other pain medications to help relieve moderate to severe pain.


Paracetamol is a common drug that comes in many different formulations. An adult should not take more than 4g of paracetamol a day unless their doctor says it’s okay. The dose limit for children depends on their age and weight, so check with the doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Some combination pain relievers, such as Panadeine® Forte, contain paracetamol and count towards your total intake. If taken within the recommended dose, paracetamol is unlikely to cause side effects.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and diclofenac, vary in dose, frequency of dose and side effects.

They can cause indigestion or stomach ulcers in some people, and can increase the risk of bleeding in the stomach or intestines.

Some studies show that NSAIDs can lead to heart (cardiac) problems, especially with prolonged use or in people who already have cardiac problems.

Talk to your doctor or nurse before taking NSAIDs, especially if you have had stomach ulcers, heart disease, get reflux, are having chemotherapy or are taking other medications (such as anticoagulants/blood thinners like warfarin) that also increase your risk of bleeding. You may be given other medication that is less likely to cause indigestion and bleeding, such as celecoxib (another type of NSAID) or paracetamol.

This information was last reviewed in November 2013

This information has been reviewed by: Dr Melanie Lovell, Consultant Palliative Care Physician, Senior Lecturer, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Frances Boyle AM, Professor of Medical Oncology, Mater Hospital and University of Sydney, NSW; Prof Michael J Cousins AM, Professor & Head, Pain Management & Research Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, NSW; Carol Kanowski, Clinical Nurse Consultant, North Queensland Persistent Pain Management Service, QLD; Brenda Kirkwood, Helpline Operator, Cancer Council QLD; A/Prof Odette Spruyt, Director, Pain and Palliative Care, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; and Sally White, Consumer.

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