A sensation of pain depends on the area of the body that is injured and how the brain deals with signals from this area. Pain is often times resolved promptly with drugs such as analgesics and (occasionally) anxiolytics and once the underlying trauma or pathology has healed. Generally, the medications used in pain management aim to stop the transmission of nerve signals from the site of injury or to directly affect how the brain processes these signals.
Treatment options for Chronic Pain
Table below illustrates the Types of Medications used in the treatment of Pain. This list is not exhaustive.
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| Drug Class||Action||Common Side Effects|
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
ibuprofen, asprin, naproxen, celecoxib (COX-2 inhibitor)
| Most NSAIDs act as non-selective inhibitors of the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX), and so prevents the formation of prostaglandins and thromboxane. |
These two compounds act (among other things) as messenger molecules in the process of inflammation.
Used in the treatment of acute or chronic conditions where pain and inflammation are present.
|Acetominophen / Paracetamol|| |
Blocks COX-2 mostly in the central nervous system, but not much in the rest of the body.
methylprednisolone and prednisone
|Best used for acute pain or for periodic flare-ups of chronic inflammatory problems|| |
Opioids / narcotics
(morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, methadone)
| Binds to the opioid receptors of CNS and so block neurosignals from pain-source areas. |
They provide a short, intermediate or long acting analgesic effect depending on whether the particular drug was formulated for extended release.
|Anti-Depressants|| Interferes with regulation of neurotransmitters and hence of certain neurosignals, including those that may be transmitting pain.|
Used to treat chronic pain and are particularly helpful for fibromyalgia, headache, and neuropathic pains including diabetic neuropathy.
They are generally are less helpful for most acute musculoskeletal sports-type injuries.
|Anti-epileptics / Anti-convulsants |
(carbamazepine, gabapentin, pregabalin)
| Blocks certain nerve signals in the CNS.|
Effective in various neuropathic pain conditions.
| Other Analgesics|
(Orphenadrine, cyclobenzaprine, mexiletine)
| These are adjuvant medications. They either prolong the effects of analgesics or make them more effective.||Side effects will vary according to the drug used|