There are many different types of pain, and the products we chose to treat the pain differ depending on the type of pain present. Pain is the body's way of telling us that something is wrong. Pain can vary from mild pain to very severe pain. It can also be localised to just one small area or widespread. Most pain can be treated with over the counter products and should go away on its own, but pain that is severe or recurring should be referred to a professional as it could be an indication of something more serious. Different types of pain include: Headache, Migraine, Toothache, Period pain, Joint pain and Muscle pain.


A headache is a very common pain that is experienced by most people at one stage or another. The pain can be felt above the eyes, ears, behind the head or upper neck. There are a number of different types of headache namely: Tension headache, Migraine and Sinusitis.
  • Tension Headache: A tension headache is often described as a tightening band of pain around the top of the head, across the forehead or at the back of the head and neck.
  • Migraine: A migraine pain typically affects only one side of the head, which can spread to the entire head. Some migraine sufferers have warning signs such as an aura (visual symptoms such as flashing lights, zigzag lines) at the onset of a migraine. Additional symptoms include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light.
  • Sinusitis: Sufferers feel pain between and underneath the eyes and across the forehead. It is as a result of congestion build up in the nose – sometimes during or after a cold.


This pain can be as a result of gum disease, infection, damage to teeth or denture irritation. The area will generally be red, swollen and inflamed. If infection is present the gum will often be swollen and hot to touch.

Period pain

Almost half of all women suffer from some sort of period pain. Generally the age of onset is around 16 and may last up until 50. Symptoms can range from mild cramps to excruciating pain. They are generally associated with other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, fatigue and back pain.

Joint Pain

Often diagnosed as rheumatism, arthritis or wear and tear. The pain can be associated with swelling, inflammation, stiffness and reduced movement in the joint. More commonly, joint pain affects the knees and hips. A common misconception is that joint pain typically pertains to the older population, however diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect people of all ages.

Muscle Pain

This is generally a result of wear and tear, injury or unaccustomed strenuous work such as gardening or exercise. Symptoms include inflammation, pain and tightness. Back pain can be as a result of pain affecting the joints in the back or muscle caused by lifting, over-stretching and bending.

The three main analgesics are Paracetamol, Aspirin and Ibuprofen. Below you will find some info on each. Remember, our staff are always willing to help you find out which medicine is best for you.


Paracetamol is very effective in reducing pain and temperature. It is suitable for children over 3 months of age. It does not irritate the stomach so can be used by people with ulcers or stomach problems. It is also safe to take if asthmatic. Dosage is usually four times a day with at least four hours between doses. It is found in many cold and flu medicines and also present in some prescription painkillers. Overdose of paracetamol can cause serious liver problems therefore it is not recommended to take two products containing paracetamol at the same time.


Aspirin has very good analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity, and it also reduces temperature. It must NOT be given to children under 16 years of age. It is not recommended for asthmatics and also people with ulcers or stomach problems as it irritates the lining of the stomach and can cause bleeding. For this reason, Aspirin should always be taken after food. Aspirin thins the blood and can affect the ability of blood to clot so should not be used in treating pain for open wounds such as tooth extraction or cuts. Please inform the pharmacist if you are taking any other blood-thinning medicines e.g. Warfarin to avoid any adverse reactions.


Like Aspirin, Ibuprofen is an effective analgesic and anti-inflammatory. It also reduces temperature. Ibuprofen is not recommended for asthmatics or for people with ulcers or stomach problems as it irritates the lining of the stomach. Patients are advised to take Ibuprofen with or after food. Ibuprofen is suitable for patients from 3 months old and is a good treatment for teething due to its ability to reduce inflammation.

Combination analgesics

Codeine: is a painkiller and at low doses can be found in combination with either paracetamol, aspirin or ibuprofen. It can cause constipation and drowsiness therefore should not be taken by anyone driving or operating machinery. Codeine can be addictive so our pharmacists and staff are obliged to determine if this is a suitable treatment for you. .
Caffeine: : is found in tea and coffee and is a stimulant. It is often combined with painkillers to make patients feel more alert. It can also counteract the drowsiness that some products cause.
Doxylamine: is an antihistamine. It has sedating and relaxing properties, therefore it is useful in treating tension headaches.
Buclizine: is an antihistamine. It has anti-emetic action and is therefore useful for patients whose migraines cause nausea and vomiting.
Hyoscine: has anti-spasmodic activity, therefore relieving stomach cramps caused by period pain.

Topical analgesics

These analgesics are applied directly to the area of pain and are available in different forms e.g. sprays, gels and creams. Many topical analgesics contain one or a combination of ingredients.
  • Anti-inflammatory ingredients such as ibuprofen, ketoprofen and diclofenac help to reduce swelling and inflammation. These ingredients are related to Aspirin and although they are found in gels and creams the active ingredient can cross the skin and seep into the blood stream. Therefore they are not suitable for asthmatics and patients sensitive to Aspirin.
  • Methyl salicylate is a counter-irritant, which causes counter-irritation that helps to distract from the pain and it also reduces inflammation.
  • Menthol is another mild counter-irritant which has a cooling effect followed by a warming effect, which helps to disguise the pain and stop the pain signals to the brain.
  • Methyl nicotinate opens the blood vessels under the skin. This gives a feeling of warmth that helps to distract from the pain and relaxes tight muscles.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the pain is severe and prevents movement
  • If the pain has started suddenly
  • If the pain keeps coming back
  • If the pain is not helped by over the counter medicines
  • If the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as bleeding, fainting, shortness of breath, vomiting or loss of weight.
  • Any headache lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Headache in children under 12
  • If the patient is asthmatic or suffers from stomach problems
  • If you are taking other medication
Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:
  • At Mulligans Pharmacy, we understand that our customers may need treatment for symptoms of a personal or sensitive nature. Our pharmacists are always available for a discreet chat in our private consultation room at your request, or you can ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question in confidence here.
  • Once an injury has occurred it is important to rest the injury until you have sought professional help.
  • Ice wrapped in a towel can be applied to an injury to prevent swelling and bruising
  • Heat e.g. a hot water bottle or heat pack can be applied to an injury to relax muscles and reduce pain.
  • A support can help reduce swelling and can give support to an injury while healing or awaiting professional help.
  • Topical analgesics should not be applied to broken skin.
  • Always read directions carefully.
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The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
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