Pain management made simple

man working with a physical therapists to find pain relief

Everyone experiences pain from childhood to old age. When pain is long-lasting, it can lead to other physical and emotional effects like mobility limitations, a lack of energy and depression.¹

To help you learn more about pain, we’ve asked Melissa Mastromarino, a CenterWell Pharmacy® clinical programs pharmacist, to discuss the different types of pain and general ways pain is treated.

Now—let’s hear from Melissa:

Different types of pain

There are 2 main pain types—acute and chronic.¹ Acute pain disappears after your body heals from an injury or illness and usually doesn’t last longer than 3 months. Chronic pain lasts months or years after you recover from an injury or illness and can come and go.²

We all feel pain differently, but generally speaking, there are 3 pain levels—mild, moderate and severe.³

  • Mild pain is noticeable but usually doesn’t impact daily activities.
  • Moderate pain may interfere with daily activities, but you can still do them for the most part.
  • Severe pain stops you from everyday activities and impacts your thinking and sleep.

Treating pain without medication

Depending on your health condition or injury, 1 or more of the following options may effectively relieve your pain if you don’t want to use medication.

Non-medicated pain management

  • If you have pain after injury, you can use ice to reduce swelling and pain
  • If you have sore muscles related to back or neck pain, you can use heat to increase blood flow to promote healing and treat pain
  • If you have an injury after an accident or stroke, you can use physical therapy to relieve pain, heal the body and increase function and movement
  • If you have chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, you can use Transcutaneous Electrical Never Stimulation therapy to relieve pain or reduce pain through a battery-operated electrical device near the pain site
  • If you have recurring pain, you can use medication or yoga to promote relaxation and stress reduction, which can help with pain relief

Treating mild to moderate pain

Mild to moderate pain can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription non-opioid pain relievers in addition to the non-medicated options above.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is an OTC drug that treats mild to moderate non-inflammatory pain like headaches.
  • Aspirin (Bayer®), ibuprofen (Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®) are OTC non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that treat mild to moderate pain with an inflammatory component—think muscle sprains or tendonitis.
  • Prescription NSAIDs like muscle relaxants and topical pain relievers (medication applied to your skin) may also be used to treat mild to moderate pain.
  • Prescription muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine treat muscle spasms.
  • Topical pain relievers like lidocaine can help reduce musculoskeletal pain or arthritis. OTC versions include Aspercreme®, BenGay® and Voltaren® gel.

If you have a Humana plan with an OTC allowance, you can order OTC pain relievers in the OTC store or CenterWell Pharmacy mobile app.

Treating severe pain

Severe pain is disabling and may need to be treated with opioid pain relievers such as morphine, hydrocodone or oxycodone. Opioids are often prescribed temporarily for acute pain following an injury or surgery but can also be used for chronic conditions like cancer.⁴

Opioid medications are highly addictive, so taking them as prescribed by your healthcare provider is important.⁴ If you’re prescribed an opioid medication, you should work with your care team to establish realistic expectations about your pain relief goals.

Finding relief

Pain can be hard to talk about because only you feel it. If you’re experiencing any pain, you should discuss it with your healthcare provider. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Keep a log of your pain to share how often it happens.
  • Tell your healthcare provider where your pain is and be specific.
  • Share what type of pain you’re experiencing, such as sharp, throbbing or aching pain.
  • Describe your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10 (mild to severe).

Depending on your needs, your healthcare provider can recommend the pain treatment that’s right for you. In addition, pharmacists at CenterWell Pharmacy are available to answer questions and provide tips on how to safely take pain medications.

Disclaimer: This material is provided for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult your doctor to determine what is right for you.

Anti-steering disclaimer: Other pharmacies may be available in our network. You can locate network pharmacies by visiting



  1. Acute vs. Chronic Pain,” Cleveland Clinic, last accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  2. Chronic Pain,” Cleveland Clinic, last accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  3. Using the Pain Scale,” Specialists Hospital Shreveport, last accessed Sept. 8, 2023.
  4. Chronic Pain: Medication Decisions,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed Sept. 8, 2023.

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