Pain and Painkillers

Michael Jackson lived and died under the arc lights. Speculation attributes his sudden death to addiction to painkillers, disastrously fuelled by the purchasing power of his millions. He could buy schedule H drugs — which are available on prescription only — and pay for their expert administration.

Pain is universal and accounts for half the medical consultations worldwide. Since everyone wants instant relief, painkillers — also called analgesics — are the most commonly prescribed and purchased medications. They belong to several chemical groups and act by dulling unbearable pain. They do not, however, cure the disease that is the root of the problem.

This means that if the actual disease is not tackled, the pain is likely to reappear when the medication wears off. This leaves patients dissatisfied and they tend to shop around for doctors.

Pain is handled by several specialists such as neurologists, surgeons, rheumatologists, general physicians, anesthetists and dentists. A patient can have several prescriptions with unidentifiable “trade names” instead of chemical names.

In an attempt to obtain relief, he or she may take several medications together. Others may dispense with the medical profession altogether and purchase analgesics over the counter (OTC) from the friendly neighbourhood pharmacy.

In such a scenario, the quantity of drug consumed and dosage intervals are no longer scientific or within safe limits. About 25 per cent of patients overdoses and 56 per cent experiences side effects — by either taking more than the recommended dose, or taking it at intervals so short that the medication is not adequately metabolised in the body.

Gradually, the body may become so used to the painkillers that habituation sets in. The medications no longer provide relief. Higher and more frequent doses are needed until, eventually, toxic levels are reached.

Today, there are millions of people from all socio-economic strata, around the world, who have unknowingly become addicted to painkillers. They are unaware of the potentially dangerous and lethal side effects of these “harmless” medications.

Pain is defined medically as “an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” It is a natural protective defence, which prevents bodily harm. Unfortunately, pain is not a tangible or measurable entity. It is as severe as the sufferer says it is.

Although pain is subjective, the degree of pain and tolerance to it are influenced greatly by social, cultural and religious factors. Egyptian queens delivered in “birthing” chairs in full view of the entire court, without any analgesic or anaesthetic, and not one of them changed their expression. It certainly was not because they were impervious to pain!

Most of the time, pain has a sudden, acute onset at a specific location in the body and is dull, burning, throbbing or stabbing. The cause — which may be an infection or injury — can usually be identified. The pain generally disappears quickly either with no treatment at all, or with simple measures such as hot or cold compresses and analgesics.

Problems set in when the pain becomes chronic, and occurs day after day, evolving into a disease entity which seems impossible to bear or cure. Around 20 to 30 per cent of the world’s population suffers from chronic pain. The commonest causes of chronic pain are low backache, arthritis, migraine and nerve pains.

If you are suffering from chronic pain,

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*Ask your doctor for a diagnosis

*Make sure you are not receiving habit-forming or dangerous medications

*Check if your social or family problems are aggravating the symptoms

*Do not take more than the amount prescribed or change the frequency

Liniments and ointments may provide relief. They need to be combined with icepacks and moist heat.

Vibration can be applied by rubbing with the hand or with a machine operated by a physiotherapist. It stimulates nerve endings and the chemicals released interfere with those causing pain and block them

Acupuncture uses needles to stimulate certain nerves. It is believed to release beneficial chemicals which block those causing pain.

Acupuncture may cause the release of the body’s own natural opiate painkillers into the various areas of the nervous system.

 

Graded exercises and physiotherapy help by gradually strengthening the muscles overlying painful joints.

Nutritional supplements like curcumin (found in turmeric), glucosamine, chondroitin (found in cartilage) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) can be added to the medication. They may help even though there is no clear-cut scientific evidence that they are beneficial.

When nothing seems to work, intravenous medication and anaesthesia can be used. This should be reserved for severe pain as occurs in cancer or after surgery. This can be dangerous and should not be administered on request.

The response to pain is a conditioned reflex. Tolerance increases with physical fitness. Exercise causes the release of chemicals from the large muscles of the body which help to withstand pain. EXERCISE REGULARLY  FOR A HEALTHY AND PAIN-FREE LONG LIFE .

Always keep in mind  MOST OF THE TIMES, CHEMICAL PAINKEELERS  AS ARE AVAILABLE IN THE MARKET  DO  MORE HARM TO OUR BODY SYSTEM  THAN  DOING ANY GOOD.SO, TRY TO AVOID THEM UNLESS IT IS ESSENTIAL TO  USE THEM.

Source:
The Telegraph  ( Kolkata, India)

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