The World of Pain Medication- Understanding how it works

FILE - This Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, shows OxyContin pills arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. Prescription painkillers should not be a first-choice for treating common ailments like back pain and arthritis, according to new federal guidelines designed to reshape how doctors prescribe drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. Amid an epidemic of addiction and abuse tied to these powerful opioids drugs, the CDC is urging general doctors to try physical therapy, exercise and over-the-counter pain medications before turning to painkillers for chronic pain. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Pain is complicated and this is why there are different treatment options, including medicines, therapies and relaxation techniques. The ability to talk about pain helps people cope better in terms of its effects and feelings about the causes.

It is also important to discuss issues that affect your life with a health care provider or the people around you. Pain is magnified when you are worried about issues such as finances, health and relationships. There are currently several options available to control pain adequately. Effective pain control is a crucial goal.

Effects of Taking a Pain Reliever

In painful situations that range from earaches to migraines, many people turn to pain medication for relief. There are different types of pain relievers that come in pill, chewable and liquid forms. Swallowing them causes the pain to reduce or go away.

  • Contrary to what some people may think, a pain reliever does not go directly to the area that hurts. It works with the brain, nervous system, nerve endings and cells to prevent you from feeling pain.
  • The body contains nerve endings within the tissues and skin. Some nerve endings sense pain such as being hit or burnt.
  • When the body’s cells are damaged or injured, chemicals that are know as prostaglandins are released. Nerve endings that are able to sense pain are highly sensitive to the chemical. They respond by picking and transmitting the injury and pain signals that are sent though the nervous system and brain. More information available here.

Dealing with Pain

Pain acts as an early warning mechanism of the body that lets you know something is wrong. Taking a pain reliever prevents damaged or injured cells from producing and releasing the prostaglandin. When this chemical is not released, the brain does not receive the pain signal as clearly or as fast.  This means that the pain becomes less severe or goes away when the cells do not release the chemical.

Pain Medication Tips

  • Pain medication such as codeine is not given for a longer period than necessary. Taking certain forms of medication repeatedly and stopping suddenly can lead to withdrawal symptoms like irritability and restlessness. If you take medication for a period of time and want to stop, reducing the dose slowly will prevent the risk of such effects.
  • Taking certain pain relievers for an extensive amount of time ca cause your body to become used to them and they will not be as effective. This is commonly referred to as tolerance.
  • If you are having dental treatment or an operation, it is important to let the doctor know that you are on pain medication.
  • If you want to buy medicine, consult the pharmacist about its interaction with pain relievers like codeine.

Side Effects

Along with useful and positive effects, some medicines can lead to adverse side effects that people may or may not experience. These unwanted effects usually improve as the body adjusts to the medication. You can speak with your pharmacist or doctor is the side effects are troublesome or continuous.


All medicine should be stored out of children’s reach. Store the medicine in a dry and cool place. Keep it away from direct light and heat.


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