Back pain

It’s estimated that four out of five adults will suffer from back pain, tension or stiffness in the lower back at some point in their lives*. So, it’s a good idea to know how to tackle this common form of pain when it strikes and get yourself back on your feet as soon as possible.

A combination of painkillers and self-care measures are the usual way to treat a painful back. Our expert colleagues can offer you advice and support on the best medication to help relieve your symptoms.

  • What lifestyle changes can you make to manage back pain?

    • Ensure you adopt a good posture.
    • If you are lifting anything, ensure you adopt the correct lifting procedure (bending from your knees rather than your back).
    • Maintain a healthy weight to ensure you aren’t putting extra pressure on your back.
    • Introduce gentle exercise into your daily routine. Consult with your doctor about what exercise if ok to do.
    • Pace your activities so you don’t do too much in one go.
    • Reduce stress, anxiety and tension and take the time to relax.
    • If your back pain is caused by a strain, apply a cold pack immediately, followed by a heat pack 24 to 48 hours later.
  • When should you seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor?

    • Your backache doesn’t improve within three days and lasts longer than six weeks.
    • Your pain is severe.
    • You’ve taken steroids for a few months.
    • You’re under 20 or over 55.
    • You misuse drugs.
    • You’ve had a recent bacterial infection.
    • You’re pregnant.


Headaches are one of the most common types of pain and luckily, they are normally easy to treat with over-the-counter painkillers.

  • What causes headaches?

    • Stress
    • Blocked sinuses
    • Lack of sleep
    • Dehydration
    • Eye strain
  • How do you treat headaches?

    • Get some rest in a dark or dimly lit room and make sure to put down any devices, such as computers, phones or tablets.
    • Make sure you stay hydrated.
    • Chat to our expert colleagues and they will advise you on the best medication to relieve the symptoms.
  • When should you seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor?

    • Your headache doesn’t respond to painkillers within a day.
    • You get regular headaches.
    • The pain is severe. 

Arthritis & Joint Pain

Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation of the joints and bones. The condition can be quite painful for this who suffer from it. According to the HSE, 1 in 6 Irish people suffer from arthritis.

Some of the main symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, inflammation and swelling, redness and warmth of the skin over the joint, and restricted movements of the joints.

There are two forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the bones in the joints becomes destroyed, causing the bones to rub directly onto each other causing pain. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, spine, hips and hands.

    Osteoarthritis can initially be managed through lifestyle changes, such as exercise. When you do need a painkiller, the first choice tends to be paracetamol, often taken regularly for the full effect. If paracetamol isn’t effective, you can try an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) like ibuprofen. Topical NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen gel, are often useful for hand or knee arthritis and corticosteroid injections into the joint are also sometimes used.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when a fault in the immune system causes the body to attack the joints causing pain and swelling. Flare ups are a common feature in this type of arthritis, and pain and stiffness may be worse in the morning.

    As well as painkillers, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis often involves medicines which tone down the immune system. If you’re taking these you’ll need to have regular blood tests and report any symptoms, such as a sore throat. NSAIDs are also commonly used to reduce swelling. 

    If you’re prescribed a regular oral NSAID for arthritis, you may need to take some extra medication to protect your stomach. Just ask our expert colleagues for more information.

  • How can you help manage arthritis?

    • Take regular exercise. It helps build up the muscles that support the joint, helping with pain. Choose gentle low impact exercises such as swimming and speak to your GP first if you’re not used to exercise.
    • Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight can put more stress on joints such as your knees.
    • Pace your activities and don’t do too much in one go.
    • Keep warm. Many people find their joints hurt more in the cold and wet, so keep well wrapped up.
  • When should you seek advice from your pharmacist or doctor?

    • You have symptoms of arthritis but haven’t been diagnosed.
    • Your pain isn’t controlled.
    • You’re on medicines to tone down your immune system and you get symptoms such as a sore throat - seek urgent advice as this may be a sign of a blood disorder.
    • Your joint pain becomes worse.
    • There are any changes in your condition.
    • You regularly buy diclofenac or ibuprofen products.

Dental Pain

If you have a toothache, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. However, your local experts in LloydsPharmacy can help relieve some of the pain while you wait for your appointment.

  • What are the causes of dental pain?

    • Abscesses
    • Tooth decay
    • Cracked or damaged teeth
    • A loose or broken filling
    • An infection, this can happen when a tooth has broken through the skin
    • Issues with your braces

    While you’re waiting for an appointment with your dentist you can use painkillers such as paracetamol* or ibuprofen*. And try to avoid sweet, hot or cold foods. You may also want to try products that help numb the painful area. Ask our experts colleagues for advice on what products can help numb the area.

    If your tooth pain only happens when you eat sweet, hot or cold food, you may have sensitive teeth. So, try brushing your teeth two or three times a day with toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth.

  • How can you help reduce dental pain?

    • Reduce the number of sweet things you eat and drink, and only have them at meal times.
    • Drink fewer fizzy drinks.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day.
    • Use dental floss to clean between your teeth, and also try a mouthwash.
    • Don’t smoke. You can ask our expert colleagues about our Quit Smoking service.
    • Visit your dentist at least once a year