Pain Medication: Common Medications Used to Manage Pain
Pain is a word used to represent a symptom of any disease. Whenever there is some injury, trauma, or inflammation in any part of the body, it may be accompanied by pain. Whenever you are feeling pain, you may need medications to get rid of that sensation of pain. Pain may be acute or chronic.
Some common groups of medicine that can be proscribed to treat pain include NSAIDs, opioids, muscle relaxants, etc. If you are suffering from some chronic pain, you may need some antidepressants as well. Here is a brief overview of each of the following groups of drugs about how they can treat your pain.
How do prescription drugs work in the human body?
Firstly, when you swallow a pill, it travels through the stomach and small intestine into the liver. The liver breaks down medication and releases the remnants into the blood stream. Subsequently, blood travels through the body medications are distributed in the same way. Drugs work in your body in a variety of ways. They can interfere with microorganisms known as germs that invade your body. In short, medications destroy abnormal cells that cause cancer, replace deficient substances, such as hormones, vitamins, or change the way that cells work in your body.
NSAIDs stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This is the most common group of medicines used to treat pain. In addition, the use of NSAIDs ranges from a mild headache to sprains and arthritis etc. This group of pain medications is used to block the enzymes Cox-1 and Cox-2, which are involved in inflammation.
Whenever you have any inflammation, it is accompanied by pain. So, these drugs control the root cause of pain by blocking the process of inflammation. Most commonly, NSAIDs used to treat pain are ibuprofen and naproxen, etc. Paracetamol, acetaminophen, is also used widely to treat slights to moderate pain as it is also a weak inhibitor of COX enzymes.
Similarly, opioids are powerful painkillers that should be used only when there is an acute episode of pain, usually following surgery of a bone fracture, etc. This group of pain medications acts centrally to increase the threshold of pain and create a sense of relaxation. However, there are many severe side effects of opioids, plus a risk of addiction also follows this group of drugs. That is why opioids are not recommended for a case of chronic pain. NSAIDs are preferred to opioids for the relief of chronic pain.
Importantly, opioids are administered only in a controlled amount and for a minimal time so that no addiction occurs. Morphine is an example of an opioid used for emergency relief from pain. It is administered in a very controlled amount, so that dependence on this drug does not occur. As soon as the ailment is cured, the dosage of morphine is slowly cut down to zero.
Certainly, buprenorphine, butorphanol, and Tramadol belong to this group and are commonly used to treat moderate to moderately severe muscle pain. These drugs act as an agonist at specific receptors while as an antagonist on some other receptors. Tramadol acts centrally to inhibit the signaling of pain. Therefore, it works to reduce the response of the brain to the stimulus of pain coming from the periphery. It has been approved to be used for chronic pain as well.
Sometimes, the underlying cause of the pain may be a spasm of a group of skeletal muscles. Such pain usually occurs in the back, shoulders and legs. When this spasm is the cause of pain and is not treated with conventional painkillers, you should switch to a muscle relaxant. This group of drugs controls the spasm of these muscles and thus relieves the pain. This includes drugs of different pharmacological groups. Tizanidine is a common muscle relaxant used to control the spasm of the skeletal muscles. It is an alpha-2 blocker that acts centrally to control the neuronal firing of motors neurons.
Antidepressants and SNRIs represent the group of drugs include tricyclic and is recommended for chronic pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal pains. This group of drugs also acts on the central nervous systems and modulates the uptake and release of serotonin and norepinephrine at the neuronal junctions. Both serotonin and norepinephrine play a role in the modulation of acute pain as well. Chronic pain and depression are also interrelated somehow. Therefore, antidepressants are a better treatment option to manage chronic pain syndrome. Venlafaxine and dobutamine have been proved to treat chronic pain syndrome.
Anticonvulsants are a group of drugs that are used to control seizures, especially in epileptic patients. That is to say, this group of drugs acts on the central nervous system to control overexcited neurons and ultimately control the seizures which occur due to uncontrolled firing of those neurons. These drugs have also been reported to relieve pain in certain clinical scenarios. Gabapentin is a drug that belongs to this group and is highly used for relief from nerve pain in diabetic neuropathy and is also used in restless leg syndrome. Lyrica, also known as pregabalin, is another example of an anticonvulsant drug used for pain relief. Additionally, this drug is approved for use in fibromyalgia and for the treatment of muscle pain.
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