What Is a Pain Suppository?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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A pain suppository is a formulation of pain medication designed for rectal insertion. The mucous membranes of the rectum quickly absorb the medication and allow it to start circulating in the bloodstream for rapid pain relief. Numerous medications are available in this format, and it can be a preferred route of administration in some cases. Some of these medications are controlled substances, and may require special handling.

Patients may need rectal administration if they are vomiting or unconscious, which may make an oral route of administration ill-advised. The pain suppository can also be used if the patient is likely to experience intestinal upset. A cancer patient, for example, might have trouble taking medications by mouth. Even if the patient isn’t actively vomiting, the medication might not stay down long enough for the full dose to be absorbed, while the suppository will have time to dissolve and circulate into the bloodstream.

Morphine and other opiates can be made available as a pain suppository for a patient. Another alternative is intravenous medication, which can be challenging to deliver in some patients. People with low blood pressure and other vascular problems might not have veins suitable for injection. Patients at home might find it easier to use a suppository than to prepare an intravenous injection or wait for a care provider who can deliver injectable medication.


In addition, non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs can also be formulated this way. This can be useful for patients with stomach upset caused by extended drug therapy. Giving medication via the rectum can give the stomach and upper intestine a chance to heal. The strength of the formulation of a pain suppository can vary, and patients may be offered several dosages to choose from, depending on pain levels at any given time.

Some patients may experience side effects like nausea, intestinal lesions, and dizziness while on a pain suppository. It is advisable to refrain from operating heavy machinery until the patient sees how the medication affects coordination. Side effects like dark or bright red stools can also be a cause for concern, as they may indicate irritation or bleeding in the intestinal lining. If a patient no longer experiences adequate pain control after taking the medication, it may be necessary to change the dosage or try a new drug. Tolerance does tend to occur over time, especially in patients with high levels of pain, and it is important to manage pain as effectively as possible for patient comfort and overall health.


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Post 3

The issue with suppositories is that they have to remain for some time for the medication to be absorbed. But in some people, suppositories cause spasms and an urgency to go to the bathroom. So some of the medication can go to waste this way too. Suppositories aren't for everyone.

Post 2

@discographer-- Pain suppositories are usually prescribed by doctors and they're used under doctor supervision so I doubt that anyone would use them unnecessarily.

My grandfather had to use them when he was undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. He had chronic nausea and absolutely no appetite, in addition to pain. So it was nearly impossible for him to take pain relievers orally and he had no interest in making a daily visit to the hospital. He was so happy when he finally returned home and he wanted to stay home as much as possible. So the doctor gave him pain relievers in suppository form. It was much easier for him to use them and they were quite effective too.

Post 1

NSAIDs are great, but using them orally for long periods of time carries a huge risk -- the risk of stomach ulcers. Studies have proven that NSAID pain relievers increase the incidence of stomach ulcers. Others experience upset stomach, nausea and acidity.

So it's great that NSAIDs are available in suppository form. Of course, a doctor should be seen first. Dose restrictions still apply. The fact that it's in suppository form doesn't change that these are pain relievers and should not be used unnecessarily. The recommended doses should not be exceeded either.

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