advertisement-vertical Download Proto magazine app
Social Icons

An Imperfect Arsenal

Given that side effects can be significant and that morphine has no effect on some people, pain treatments are sorely limited.

By Rachael Moeller Gorman // Spring 2007
icon-printprint
share: digg.com del.icio.us facebook.com
 

DRUG TYPE

PAIN TARGET

HOW IT WORKS

POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS

OPIATES:
include morphine, codeine, oxycodone
Nociceptive, inflammatory; some neuropathic, idiopathic pain relief Activates the mu-opioid receptor system Drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, constipation, dependence
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS):aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen
Inflammatory pain Dampens the body’s inflammatory response by inhibiting COX-2 enzyme (COX-1 is inhibited as well) Ulcers because of COX-1 inhibition, gastric hemorrhage, Reye’s syndrome in children (aspirin)
COX-2 inhibitors:
celecoxib
Inflammatory pain, especially arthritis An NSAID; inhibits only COX-2 enzyme With long-term use, possible increase in risk of heart attacks and stroke
Paracetamol/ acetaminophen
Mild acute pain Activates cannabinoid receptors Liver damage
Anticonvulsants: carbamazepine, pregabalin, gabapentin, lamotrigine Some neuropathic and idiopathic pain Dampens the excitability of the central nervous system Dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting
Tricyclic antidepressants: amitriptyline Some neuropathic and idiopathic pain Inhibits reuptake of certain neurotransmitters Vomiting, drowsiness, anxiety, insomnia, headaches
Serotonin/ Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): duloxetine Some neuropathic and idiopathic pain Inhibits reuptake of certain neurotransmitters Upset stomach, nausea, dry mouth, constipation
Drug Mixtures: acetaminophen + oxycodone = Percocet; hydrocodone + acetaminophen = Vicodin Moderate acute pain Travels various pathways to attack pain Various, depending on mixture
Stat-arrow-green

The Body in Pain

Chronic pain

Genetic variations, it turns out, explain why everyone experiences pain differently. Now medicine can push toward personalized relief.

Protomag on Facebook Protomag on Twitter