What if my pain relief isn’t working?

Don’t wait to ask for help with pain. Tell your doctor or nurse straight away if your pain gets worse or is not being controlled.

Your doctor or nurse may increase the dose of your painkillers or change the way you take them. Or they may suggest switching to a different painkiller. If your painkillers are not controlling your pain, there are other types of pain relief and other ways of managing your pain.

If your pain isn’t under control, it may help to have a specialist palliative care or supportive care review. Your GP or hospital team can refer you for this. Read about palliative care and supportive care.

“ You don’t have to endure pain without help or medication. You don’t have to put up with it."

Questions to ask your doctor or nurse


  • Can you explain how and when I should take painkillers?
  • What side effects might I get?
  • Should I take anything to prevent side effects?
  • Will other medicines affect my pain medicines?
  • How will these painkillers affect my daily life?
  • What should I do if the pain doesn’t get better or gets worse?
  • Can you recommend a pain diary or any mobile phone apps to keep a record of pain?

Speak to your doctor or nurse about pain

You can speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line with any questions about pain and how it can be managed.

Speak to our nurses

“I think people sometimes think they are on the highest dose they can be when they’re given something like morphine and that’s not always true. Often the pain can be due to other things and there are other things that can be done.”

Updated April 2022

To be reviewed April 2025