Types of stronger opioid painkillers
Morphine is usually the strong opioid that people start with. There are two types – immediate release morphine and modified release morphine.
You usually take morphine by mouth, as a tablet or liquid. But you can have it as an injection if you are being sick or have trouble swallowing. Morphine can also be given by a syringe driver.
This drug works in a similar way to morphine and comes in immediate release and modified release forms. You may have oxycodone if morphine causes side effects.
You usually take oxycodone by mouth as a tablet, capsule or liquid. You can also have it as an injection, or by a syringe driver.
This type of opioid painkiller can be a good choice for people who find it hard to swallow tablets, or who can’t take morphine. There are a few types of fentanyl, including injections and skin patches.
Fentanyl patches are used for controlling stable background pain and are usually changed every three days. The patches don’t control unstable or short-term pain.
Fentanyl also comes as tablets which dissolve under your tongue, lozenges that you suck, and nose sprays. These can treat breakthrough pain, and may be used with other painkillers.
This is another option for people who have stable pain and who find it difficult to swallow tablets. Buprenorphine is available as a skin patch, or as a tablet that you dissolve under your tongue.
Methadone can be taken by mouth as a liquid, tablet or capsule. You can also have it as an injection.
Methadone works for different lengths of time in different people, so the dose will be specific to you. It may only be offered by doctors who have a lot of experience in using it.
Tapentadol is a tablet that you take by mouth. It is available in immediate release and modified release forms. You normally take tapentadol between two and four times a day.