Analgesia is a broad term used for medication that offers pain relief. These are often called painkillers. An analgesic can be induced by such medications as codeine and morphine. The sensation of analgesia can relieve pain in the body and allow users to resume their normal daily activities without further issues.
Many of these painkillers can be classed as over the counter drugs and can be purchased by the average person. These include paracetamol and ibuprofen.
What is analgesia?
Analgesics are pain relief drugs that target specific types of pain due to the medication contained inside the tablets. There are different types of analgesics including paracetamol and a variety of opioid analgesics.
Paracetamol is available without a prescription and users can purchase it over the counter.
Opioid analgesics are available only via prescription due to having strong ingredients. These can be purchased with a doctor’s prescription.
Anti-inflammatory medication such as Naproxen can be tried or added in with your analgesic medication to provide improved symptomatic pain relief.
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When are analgesics used?
Analgesic medication is often used for pain in musculoskeletal conditions. Pain in muscles and joints can all be treated by non-opioid drugs. For more severe pain a doctor may prescribe an opioid drug to treat chronic issues and other severe disorders.
Any patient suffering from pain can take an analgesic. Individuals suffering from arthritis or similar conditions can also benefit from taking the medication to relieve swelling and pain in the body.
Some analgesics can be taken when an individual needs them to treat pain and discomfort. However, there are some analgesics that must be taken at specific times to reduce pain. If an individual takes an opioid and stops abruptly, they can experience withdrawal symptoms.
What conditions or problems can analgesics help with?
Analgesics like Paracetamol can be taken to reduce fever and eliminate moderate pain in those that take it. Issues that can be treated include muscle pain, toothaches, symptoms from the common cold, and headaches. Individuals experiencing swelling and pain can also take analgesics.
Individuals who take analgesics can experience side effects including drowsiness, upset stomachs, and dry mouth. Users can experience multiple side effects when taking analgesic medications.
Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA)
Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA) is a method of pain relief that lets the patient control the level of analgesia medication they use according to their needs. They do this through self-administration of small doses of analgesia from a programmable pump. PCA treatment is ideal for patients managing acute pain conditions that require ongoing, repeated doses of medication. The patient will work closely with their medical support team to ensure an effective PCA plan.
This system can be used to treat acute, chronic or postoperative pain. It is a great alternative to treat patients that cannot take pain-killing medications orally. The patient only needs to press a button on the PCA pump to receive a small dose of medication. There is no risk of overdose because the patient cannot exceed the maximum amount programmed on the PCA pump.
The analgesic ladder was a methodology proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986, to ensure adequate pain relief treatments for cancer patients. It is a three-step process dealing with mild, moderate, and severe and persistent pain.
It aims to improve the treatment strategies used for pain management during palliative care for cancer patients. The plan includes enhancing education through shared strategies and results through a global support network.
The analgesic ladder is a pathway developed by an international group of medical experts that is continually being reviewed and constantly updated with new research, results and developments. The ladder is used primarily for managing cancer patients but also acute and chronic non-cancer painful conditions such as musculoskeletal diseases commonly treated by a rheumatologist.
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Analgesia in pregnancy
Medications should only be prescribed during pregnancy if your doctor believes they will benefit the mother with minimal risks to the fetus. The use of prescription analgesics during pregnancy has proven safe and is very common.
Over 50 per cent of analgesics are classed in category C, and even more are classed in category D for use during the third trimester. Your doctor will work closely with you to check for any changes in cardiac output, renal filtration or plasma protein concentration that may need a dose adjustment to protect the developing fetus.
Combined spinal-epidural (CSE) analgesia is a popular treatment because it is fast-acting compared to standard analgesics without epidural techniques, 2 to 5 minutes versus 10 to 15 minutes, respectively.
Lumbar epidural infusion can take several hours to achieve sacral analgesia. But rapid onset sacral analgesia is especially effective at relieving pain quickly during childbirth. However, epidural analgesia is also a successful treatment for relieving pain in a part of your body, and during and after some surgical procedures.
Rheumatologists can also give steroid injections with an epidural analgesic to treat pain in your back or legs. This could be due to an injury, a prolapsed disc or sciatica.