Pain is the discomforting feeling you experience when something may be wrong with your body. It is also often one of the early signs of an underlying medical condition. These uncomfortable symptoms can be described as stabbing, throbbing, sharp or dull aches and pains. The discomfort of pain can be mild to moderate, like in the case of a headache, or these feelings can be more severe, such as the symptoms of the health condition, fibromyalgia.
When pain is experienced, the sensory receptors in the affected area pick up and transmit, chemical messages, to the brain and spinal cord. These nerve messages are transmitted via the nerve fibres, located all throughout the body. Once received by the brain, these messages are interpreted and perceived as pain. Painkiller medications, also known as analgesics, are therapeutics specially designed for the purpose of limiting the discomfort of pain. These analgesic medicines function by influencing the transmission of the pain messages and generally, this is done through the interaction of the medicament and opioid receptors (in the case of opioid painkillers).
In a CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) review conducted last year, it was recorded that through the period of 2015 to 2018, 10.7% of adults in the United States (aged 20 years or over) had used one or more prescription painkillers within a month of the survey.
There are various types of analgesic medications available on the pharmaceutical market. These range from strong painkillers, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and moderately strong pain medicines, such as the frequently used codeine painkillers, to mild pain-relieving tablets, such as paracetamol. These therapeutics have different mechanisms of action and work in varying ways to relive pain.
Painkillers containing codeine are used in all parts of the world. According to a global survey, the consumption of codeine in the UK was estimated as being 5.4% of the worldwide share of codeine, for 2018 alone. Moreover, this statistic increased to almost 14%, just one year later. With so many people using codeine-based analgesics, there must some reason behind the popularity of this pain medication.
These tablets are highly effective for the treatment of pain. In a randomised, placebo-controlled study, the use of codeine in chronic non-malignant pain was evaluated. It was indicated that 93% of clinical trial patients who completed the study requested long-term treatment with codeine control-release (codeine CR) pills. This study further concluded that the efficacy of codeine CR was based on the reduction of pain symptoms and the reduction of pain-related disabilities as well (Arkinstall et. al., 1995).
Even with the great efficacy of these pain medications, opiates are to be used with caution as they carry a risk for dependency and tolerance, as well as painkiller addiction. The safety of this therapeutic can be maintained by adhering to the advised dosages and dosing guidelines, as these are put in place to minimise the risk of painkiller side effects.
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