Antidepressants are used in the treatment of many chronic pain conditions. They are especially useful for treating neuropathic pain – pain that originates from the nerves.
Antidepressants can directly affect how our brain senses certain kinds of pain. They may increase neurotransmitters in the spinal cord that reduce pain signals. But they don’t work immediately. It can be a period of time before one feels any better and sometimes it may take weeks for full effect to be experienced.
To reduce or prevent side effects, usually a low dose is administered and slowly the dose is increased. The doses that are effective for pain are generally lower than the doses used for depression.
Some antidepressants used for treating pain conditions are –
Anti-seizure or antiepileptics medications were originally designed to treat people with epilepsy (seizures) wherein the brain activity become abnormal. But the nerve-calming qualities of some of these medications can also help with the burning, stabbing or shooting pain often caused by nerve damage.
The exact mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, but anti-seizure medications appear to interfere with the overactive transmission of pain signals sent from damaged nerves (neuropathy) or overly sensitized nerves, as in fibromyalgia.
Antiepileptics that are successful in treating pain are –
Opioids are commonly prescribed for pain management because they are effective in relieving many types of pain. These medications are classified as narcotics and can be dangerous when abused. But, when used properly, opioids such as morphine have long been known to help the severe pain that follows surgery and to alleviate the suffering of people with advanced cancer. Recently, morphine and similar drugs have also been used to treat chronic pain not caused by cancer.
Taken as directed, opioids can manage pain effectively when used for a short period of time. With long-term use, people need to be screened and monitored because a fraction of those treated may develop an addiction disorder.
Opioids used for pain treatment are –
D) Simple Pain Killers
These are also known as over the counter (OTC) drugs that can be bought without prescription and help relieve common pain symptoms. For mild to moderate pain associated problems like backpain or headaches, simple painkillers such as paracetamol and anti-inflammatory medicines are very useful.
They can be very helpful for pain arising from inflammation-related conditions such as arthritis.
Do keep in mind that because they are available over-the-counter does not mean they are completely free of side effects. One should always check with their pharmacist or doctor to ensure these drugs are safe for their medical condition or not, specially in case of allergies.
E) Topical Painkillers
Topical pain killers, or analgesics, are sprayed on, rubbed or applied over the area of painful muscles or joints. All are designed to relieve pain, but different products use different ingredients.
For hand and knee osteoarthritis or strains and sprains, topical painkillers like diclofenac and topical ketoprofen are rubbed on the skin and help reduce the intensity of pain. For postherpetic neuralgia, a single application of topical high-concentration capsaicin helps reduce pain by at least half.