Analgesics, which are constantly improved by scientists, give relief in the fight against many ailments. Some can be bought at a pharmacy without a prescription, others can only be purchased with the approval of a doctor. Often choosing the right agent can take a lot of time for the doctor – it is important to find the one that helps the patient the most and causes as few side effects as possible and determine the smallest dose that brings relief to the patient.
Pharmacology of pain is not just pills and pills, although they are the most commonly used means to fight pain. Painkillers prescribed by your doctor may also have other forms, eg:
Some painkillers can be purchased by the pharmacy itself, such as many NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), which aim to relieve inflammation in the body. They owe their popularity to analgesic and antipyretic properties. This group includes aspirin, ibuprofen and flurbiprofen.
The drug that relieves pain and reduces fever is also paracetamol, occurring in many popular means available on the market, such as Panadol, Gripex or APAP. Although this agent is relatively harmless, its long-term use may have a negative effect on the functioning of our liver, as well as combining the use of paracetamol with alcohol. You can find more information about non-prescription painkillers here (Non-prescription drugs).
However, there is also a group of drugs, most of which are only available with a medical prescription. These are drugs from the opioid group, which includes codeine and morphine. They are usually used in situations where other painkillers are insufficient – for example in the case of cancer, severe injuries resulting from an accident, post-operative pain, etc. In Poland, drugs from this group are a controversial issue – some doctors are not willing to prescribe due to fear of becoming dependent on them. In recent years, however, there are more and more voices that the pain of Polish patients is insufficiently attenuated, and representatives of medical science encourage doctors to more frequently prescribe opioid medicines. (More information on this topic can be found here: Opioid analgesics)
The main property of opioids is analgesia. However, some side effects may also accompany them, such as intestinal motility disorders and constipation, drowsiness, apathy and problems with attention. Taking small doses only for pain relief does not carry the risk of addiction. It arises when the dose of the drug is increased without the specialist’s control or when it is taken for non-medical purposes. Taking higher doses of drugs is supported by the development of tolerance to the drug with long-term use; tolerance occurs when increasing doses of the drug are needed to achieve the same effect.
Remember! Never, unless you have been told by your doctor, do not change your opioid medicines yourself. Report changes in pain – if it disappears regardless of painkillers, it is possible that your doctor will suggest a different preparation.
The group of opioid medicines includes agents containing morphine. They are administered to patients in the form of tablets or by injection. An example of a drug from this group is Doltart, containing morphine sulphate, sold in the form of coated tablets. Its use is indicated in the case of severe and chronic pain.
The group of opioid substances also includes codeine, which has a painkilling effect that is weaker than morphine. An exemplary medicine containing this substance is Efferalgan Codeine, available as a prescription in the form of effervescent tablets. The indication in its application is suffering from moderate or severe pain, which does not disappear when taking less powerful painkillers.
The pain can also be alleviated thanks to the action of agents that do not belong to painkillers. This group includes corticosteroids, anticonvulsants or antidepressants
Corticosteroids as a drug find use in the form of anti-inflammatory agents; they are used, among others in the case of inflammation of the skin or in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The reduction of edema caused by them may be a pain relief for patients.
Antiepileptic drugs are used to treat neuropathic pain – resulting from dysfunction or damage to our nervous system. Studies have confirmed that patients who complained of acute pain who received antiepileptic drugs reported a reduction in painful complaints, as well as a reduction in sleep problems and a general improvement in quality of life.
Effectiveness in the treatment of pain can also be obtained after application to patients suffering from pain antidepressants. Administration of amitriptyline to patients with painful ailments causes not only their reduction, but also the improvement of their functioning in various other areas – eg reduction of fatigue and prolonged sleep time and improvement of its quality.
Benzodiazepines may be helpful in the treatment of diseases in which patients suffer from excessive muscle tone and muscle pain. In this type of discomfort, skeletal muscle relaxants, eg baclofen, available in medicines such as Baclofen or Lioresal may be helpful.
Remember! Experimenting with drugs can have very dangerous consequences. It may take weeks to choose the right drug for you, but it should be done under close medical supervision. It is also important that you monitor changes in your body and keep an expert informed about them – your response to the recommended medications depends on how you plan and conduct your continued pharmacotherapy.