Pain Medication for Pancreatitis


Pancreatitis is an infection that causes inflammation of the pancreas, which is a gland in the body that sits behind the stomach and releases hormones such as glucagon and insulin into the bloodstream in order to aid in the digestive process. This condition can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, sweating, jaundice and abdominal pain, among other symptoms. A number of medications are available to help deal with pain caused by pancreatitis.


  • Acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication, is commonly used to reduce fevers, relieve headaches and diminish other types of bodily pain. It is often administered specifically for relief of mild pain caused by pancreatic inflammation and is typically safe for an adult in doses of 4000mg or less per day.


  • Ibuprofen, a non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) is similar to acetaminophen in that it is available over-the-counter, and is often used to treat mild forms of pain. It can most easily be found in brand name pain relievers such Advil and Motrin. Ibuprofen is stable and does not break down in liquid like aspirin does. It can be administered orally as a pill or in topical form through the skin.

Narcotic Meperidine

  • Most commonly known as demerol, narcotic meperidineis stronger than acetaminophen or ibuprofen. It is usually reserved for moderate to severe pain, and can only be obtained through a doctor's prescription. It is believed to carry less risk of an addiction than other narcotics like morphine and is particularly affective in combating spasmodic vomiting.


  • Morphine, an extremely potent psychoactive drug, is an analgesic (pain reliever) used to treat more severe pancreatic pains by acting directly on the body's central nervous system. It should only be administered under the watchful eye of a physician, as it is also an opiate with a high potential for psychological dependence.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

  • Tricyclic antidepressants, which are psychoactive drugs, are used primarily in patients with chronic pancreatitis. These medications are most often prescribed to help pain sufferers sleep and deal with depression. Tricyclic antidepressants work by modulating the opioid system in the brain, which is a principal part of the central nervous system. These drugs also help relieve migraines.


  • Hydrocodone, an analgesic, is the active narcotic ingredient found in Vicodin, and is sometimes used instead of morphine to reduce moderate to severe pancreatic pain. Vicodin contains about 5mg of hydrocodone and, due to a higher propensity for overdose or chemical dependency, should only be administered by a licensed physician.

Acid Reducers

  • Medications such as Pepcid, Prilosec and Zantac reduce acid build-up in the pancreas by blocking the body's receptors that are most responsible for creating stomach acid. Although acid reducers are shown to be ineffective against certain types of pancreatitis, they can help reduce bleeding in the digestive tract and certain types of stomach pain caused from excess acid production.

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