Painkillers are medications used to treat pains caused by various reasons, including medical conditions, injuries, surgeries, psychological issues, and stress. These medications are known by many different terms, such as narcotics, analgesics, pain relievers, pain relief medications, pain medicine, etc.
Some painkillers are only given with a doctor's approval, while others can be bought over the counter. Pain relief medicines come in all sorts of packaging. They are available as pills, capsules, injections, creams, gels, balms, and even skin patches.
Prescription painkillers and non-prescription painkillers treat different kinds of pain and inflammation.
Non-prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers ease pain caused by the following injuries or health conditions:
These pain relief drugs have a substantial impact and are used to alleviate severe pain caused by serious health conditions, including:
Pain relief is medically obtained through four different means: prescription medication, non-prescription (OTC) medication, topical application, and physical therapy.
Non-prescription or OTC pain relief medications are readily available at any pharmacy or convenience store. Any adult can purchase them without a prescription. Types of common non-prescription medications include:
Prescription pain relievers treat severe or chronic pain. They cannot be purchased without a doctor's prescription. Types of common prescription painkillers include:
Topical pain relievers are directly applied or sprayed on the skin. They are available in many different forms, such as gels, creams, sprays, and skin patches. Types of pain-relieving ointments include:
There are therapeutic means by which pain can be relieved. These include:
Acetaminophen and NSAIDs work by inhibiting an enzyme called cyclo-oxygenase (COX). This, in turn, reduces the level of prostaglandins, the hormone-like compound responsible for pain and inflammation. Both these medications briefly block the pain receptors so that the nerves cannot carry pain signals from the muscles to the brain.
Opioids work similarly to NSAIDs and acetaminophen. They bind with opioid receptors in the brain to cut off pain signals coming from the affected body part.
Corticosteroids or just steroids numb the pain by decreasing the level of prostaglandins in the body. They also prevent the pain receptors from sending signals to the central nervous system.
Antidepressants work by changing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. They are usually used to treat chronic pain.
Anti-seizure medications interfere with the nerve pathway and block the pain signals from reaching the brain.
Topical medications inhibit the pathway between pain receptors in the skin and the brain. They induce a cooling or warming effect on the skin to dilate muscles and blood vessels in it.
Physical therapy treatments ease the pain by various means. TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) provides electrical impulses to the affected part. These impulses stop the pain receptors from alerting the brain. Hot and cold packs work by decreasing swelling and improving blood flow in the affected part. Cold packs also help to numb the skin.
Painkillers are a fundamental part of medicine, including psychiatry and surgery. Below are the eight most widely accepted benefits of using painkillers:
Like any other medication, misuse of painkillers may cause certain side effects, ranging from mild to severe. Side effects due to long-term use of prescription and non-prescription painkillers are listed separately.
You need to call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking any pain reliever.
According to studies, taking acetaminophen during pregnancy is safer as compared to taking NSAIDs or opioids. Both NSAIDs and opioids may raise the risk of congenital disabilities in the unborn baby during the early stages of pregnancy.
Mothers require strong painkillers if they have a caesarean section (C-section) birth or hard labour and delivery. Doctors take all the conditions into account before giving pain relief medication.
Let your doctor know if you breastfeed your infant or plan to breastfeed. Non-prescription painkillers and certain opioids are safe to take while breastfeeding.
Buy the best pain relief treatments
Pain relief medications treat all kinds of pain, ranging from mild to severe. OTC painkillers such as acetaminophen treat pain and discomfort caused by health conditions like flu, headaches, muscle pains, and allergic reactions. Prescription pain relievers like opioids and antidepressants need to be approved by a health expert. It's best to consult a healthcare professional before taking pain relief medicine, just to be on the safe side.