Choosing the best chronic pain medication, be it an over-the-counter variety or one your doctor prescribes, depends mainly on finding one that works effectively for you. At the same time, it has to have manageable side effects you can live with. Another consideration with certain drugs is the potential for addiction and your level of comfort with the possibility of developing a dependency on them. You may also need to consider the cost of your chosen medication to find one you can afford.
Different people experience pain in different ways, so finding the right chronic pain medication is not always straightforward. One medication will work in a certain manner to control pain, while another will do so totally differently. You may find, for example, that over-the-counter NSAIDs, which work by reducing the body's production of prostaglandins, do little to relieve the pain from your condition, while prescription antidepressants, which adjust the brain's neurotransmitter levels, work very well. It may take time and some trial and error before you find the best medication for you. It is also possible that one drug may work well for a period of time and then become less effective, meaning you might need to try another.
Most chronic pain medication has the potential to cause side effects; depending on how you react to different drugs, this may contribute to which one you choose. Side effects can range from mild issues like nausea, weight gain, or headache, to more severe problems like liver or kidney damage, cardiac complications, or breathing problems. If the side effects of a medication significantly decrease your quality of life or even become dangerous, they may outweigh the pain control benefits.
The risk of becoming physically dependent on a drug is another factor you may wish to consider when choosing a chronic pain medication. This is of particular concern with prescription opioids like morphine, oxycodone, and codeine. Typically, these drugs are preferred for short-term pain control; if you are considering taking them for a chronic condition, you will likely wish to consult carefully with your doctor.
Another consideration you may need to take into account when deciding on a chronic pain medication is the cost. Though it would be preferable to always just choose the most effective drug, the fact that you will need to continue buying it long term might come into play. A more expensive medication may not be feasible if you cannot afford to buy it for months or years.