Painkillers & Anti-inflammatories

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About Painkillers & Anti-inflammatories

Pain is a distressing symptom that can make life a misery. It is really important to see a doctor to discuss your pain as there is a huge range of highly effective pain medications available. 

Paracetamol is a much better painkiller than you may assume. Taken regularly and at the full dose it works well and is very safe. Anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen are generally prescribed for people who have pain and inflammation - for example, joint and muscle pains. Opioids are painkillers related to morphine and are prescribed for more severe pain. Opiods can cause  significant side effects and are addictive, for this reason DocTap doctors only prescribe the safest type of opiods whice are codeine and dihydrocodeine. 

Pain management is like a ladder, so if adequate control is not achieved, a doctor would continue to increase the strength of painkillers. This is achieved by either increasing the dose of a painkiller or adding in more painkillers. However it is worth noting, that as medications have side effects,  once adequate control is achieved it is worth trying to 'come down the ladder' to see if this helps. 

How do Painkillers & Anti-inflammatories work?

There are three main types of painkillers and they work in a different ways.

  • Paracetamol is a well known and effective first-line painkiller. Its mechanism of action is not fully understood. 
  • Ibuprofen  is also quite well known and this belongs to the family of medications called Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Other examples of NSAIDs include naproxen, diclofenac. As the name suggests, as well as being painkillers, these medication are also anti-inflammatory as they block the enzymes which make the chemicals that cause inflammation and pain called prostaglandins. NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation and kidney damage so it is important to see a doctor for a pain review if you are taking regular ibuprofen. The stronger NSAIDs need a prescription. 
  • Opioids such as codeine, dihydrocodeine, tramadol and morphine, work by binding to certain receptors in mainly the central nervous system, as well other parts of the body such as the gut to a decrease the way you feel pain. The main problem with opioids is that the body becomes tolerant to them so the effect can start to wear off. If you have been taking high doses and you suddenly stop taking them then you will get withdrawal symptoms. Always discuss with a doctor before increasing your dose as gradual increases can cause lead to you becoming dependent on this medication. PLEASE NOTE: DOCTAP DOES NOT PRESCRIBE OPIOIDS. 

Painkillers can be given as liquids, tablets, capsules, creams, ointments, suppositories, and for people with long term pain as patches. 

how painkillers & anti-inflammatories work

Types of Painkillers & Anti-inflammatories

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