Levels of pain control

Medicines that relieve pain are called analgesics. They do not affect the cause of the pain, but they can reduce pain effectively. The medicine that is best for you depends on the type of pain you have and how severe it is.

There are different types and strengths of pain medicines suitable for different types of pain.


  • Suitable for pain less than 3 on the pain scale.

Mild to moderate

  • Used for pain that is 3–6 on the pain scale.
  • Examples include weak opioids, e.g. codeine.


  • Prescribed when pain is described as being higher than 6 on the pain scale.
  • Examples include strong opioids, e.g. morphine, fentanyl.

This information was last reviewed in September 2015
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