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Analgesics For Spinal Disc Pain
Dr. Ron Daulton, Jr.
Analgesics are pain–relieving medications, and they tend to be stronger and have the tendency to become habit–forming, unlike the NSAID’s we discussed in the previous part of this article.
The list of medications that fit into this category and are often prescribed for spinal disc problems include:
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol, Panadol, Ofirmev, Mapap, Feverall, Acephen, Mejoralito, Xl–dol, Nortemp, Tempra, Bf–paradac)
- Morphine (Avinza, Duramorph, Kadian, DepoDur, Astramorph)
- Tramadol (Ultram, ConZip, Ryzolt)
- Tylenol with Codeine
- Vicodin (Lorcet, Xodol, Hycet, Zydone, Maxidone, Zolvit, Co-gesic, Liquicet, Vicodin, Norco, Lortab)
How Do These Medications Work?
The key difference between these pain–relievers and NSAID’s is that they all work by altering the nervous system to numb the pain, rather than reducing inflammation like the NSAID’s do.
Acetaminophen works by increasing your pain threshold so it requires a lot more of the chemicals that cause pain before you actually feel it. Remember how we talked about prostaglandins in the previous part of this article (when we discussed NSAID’s and how they work)?
What happens is, you have to have a certain number of those chemicals being produced before your nervous system will tell you something is wrong. That exact amount of chemicals that is required to cause pain is what we call your pain threshold.
So, NSAID’s work by stopping those chemicals from being produced at all (they stop the enzymes that produce prostaglandins from working, therefore the prostaglandins are never produced which means there won’t be enough of it to hit your pain threshold and cause you pain).
Acetaminophen works by increasing your pain threshold, so even if prostaglandins are there, it will take a lot more of them than usual to cause pain.
All of the other medications in this group work by affecting neurotransmitters in your brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals within the brain and nervous system that determine how you feel. They affect your mood more than anything, so for example, there are neurotransmitters that will make you feel happy. Others will make you feel depressed. Some make you feel pain, while others hide pain.
These medications will essentially increase the neurotransmitters that hide pain and make you feel good.
This may sound good at first, but keep in mind that there can be consequences to this. First, these neurotransmitters are not made in an unlimited supply. If you deplete them, they are very hard to get back.
That’s why these medications can be highly addictive – your body will require more and more of the drug to get the same effect.
In fact, these drugs affect the same part of the brain that heroin would, so you can see how addictive these can become.
In addition to that, these medications do not correct the problem – they are only hiding the symptoms. As I said previously, I have no problem with that as long as these are only taken temporarily and you have a plan in place to work with the affected disc to get it to heal.
This is something we’ll be covering at the end of this article. There are many options available to you, and healing a spinal disc condition is possible when you do the right things.
Now let’s cover the side effects and drug interactions associated with these medications. You can click the Next button below if you’d like to go directly to the side effects, or you can use the links below if you would like to learn about something else.