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Analgesics

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 Analgesics
Summary
  • Analgesics are widely used to help relieve pain.
  • Your Pharmacist is well informed about medications used for Arthritic conditions and is able to advise on appropriate medications and possible side effects and drug interactions.
  • Herbal analgesics may also be effective for relieving the symptoms of Arthritis pain.
Description

Analgesics are drugs used to relieve pain. The Analgesics discussed here are known as simple analgesics. They are used to control pain which is mainly mechanical or only mildly inflammatory in cases such as osteoarthritis and soft tissue rheumatism.

Analgesics are widely used to help relieve pain. Some common Analgesics used to relieve the pain of Arthritis are:

Paracetamol - A generally safe and well tolerated drug. Paracetamol is usually available as a 500mg tablet or capsule. Paracetamol is often used in conjunction with other anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory drugs. Paracetamol does not cause gut problems (such as peptic ulceration or bleeding) nor does it have addictive problems. Overdose of paracetamol can cause liver damage and requires prompt medical attention. Up to 1g of paracetamol every six hours is considered well within safe limits for an otherwise healthy adult.

Codeine - May be given alone or in combination with paracetamol. Codeine may cause constipation and if used for long periods may be associated with some dependency. Codeine is usually used for severe pain.

Aspirin - Will help relieve pain as other analgesics, but can also reduce fever and if given in high dosage can reduce inflammation. High doses of aspirin are associated with significant side effects, however, because of its ability to irritate the lining of the stomach, Aspirin should always be taken with plenty of fluids and food. Doses of 300 to 600mg taken over a day are generally considered to be safe for otherwise healthy individuals. Aspirin also has the ability to 'thin' the blood, slowing clotting time. This is usually not a problem for most people.
Let your Doctor know if you have stomach upset, signs of bleeding in your bowel motions, have ringing in the ears or are also taking drugs for diabetes, gout and/or anticoagulant drugs (such as Warfarin).

Dextropropoxyphene - May be used in combination with paracetamol. Use over long periods may be associated with some constipation and dependency, thus these drugs are usually only recommended for short term use.

Ibuprofen - Is used to manage mild to moderate pain in patients with ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The recommended dose for an adult is 400 to 1600mg a day. The drug is well absorbed with some studies showing peak levels in the body after 1.5 to 3 hours. The tablets should be taken in divided doses 3 to 4 times a day.

A variety of over-the-counter topical analgesics are available. These are usually creams or gels which may be rubbed into the painful area several times a day. Such creams should not be applied to broken or irritated skin, and hands must be washed well after application. If it is your hands that are being treated, wear a pair of light cotton gloves to prevent creams from getting into the eyes1. Creams may interact with oral medications, so always ask your Doctor or Pharmacist before commencing a new treatment.

Aspirin should not be given to children under 16 years of age unless specified by a Doctor. Aspirin should be avoided in children aged 12 to 15 if they are feverish.2

  • Management

    Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. Analgesics are not curative - they only reduce the severity of some of the symptoms of Arthritis. Ask your Doctor about other drug and non-drug methods for assisting in the treatment of Arthritis.


    Supplementary Notes

    Herbal analgesics may also be effective for relieving the symptoms of Arthritis pain. The following herbs are common pain relievers;

    • Guaiacum officinale - may help reduce inflammation and stimulate circulation for the relief of arthritis.3 4
    • Jamaican Dogwood - is believed to be a painkiller, anti-cramping and anti-inflammatory agent and relaxant.5 6
    • White Poplar - or willow bark is noted for its analgesic and anti-rheumatic properties7. It is also thought to be a circulatory stimulant which may help relieve the pain of arthritis8.
    • Feverfew - is believed to be very effective for relieving the inflammation and pain of arthritis9.

  • Pharmacist's Advice
    Ask your Pharmacist for advice. Your Pharmacist is well informed about medications used for Arthritic conditions and is able to advise on appropriate medications and possible side effects and drug interactions.
    1. Begin a sensible exercise programme. Ask your Doctor or Pharmacist about appropriate forms of exercise for your level of mobility and physical fitness.
    2. If overweight, begin a sensible weight reduction Programme. Ask your Pharmacist for advice.
    3. Ask your Pharmacist about Home Health Aids which can help improve your mobility and independence around the home. Talk to your Pharmacist about particular tasks you find difficult and he/she may be able to recommend a product appropriate for your needs.
    4. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. Ask your Pharmacist for more advice.
  • Notes

    Organisations & Support Groups

    Arthritis Foundation of Australia - http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/ 


    References

    1. Stewart K. Topical relief for arthritis pain. Australian Pharmacy Trade 2001 May 17; 20-23.
    2. News Summary. Older children should also avoid aspirin. The Pharmaceutical Journal 2002 Apr 27; Vol.268, No.7195:557-561.
    3. Mabey R. The Complete New Herbal. Penguin.1988.pp128.
    4. Newall, et al. Herbal Medicines. The Pharmaceutical Press.1996.pp156.
    5. Mabey, R. The Complete New Herbal. Penguin.1988.pp29.
    6. Newall, et al. Herbal Medicines. The Pharmaceutical Press.1996.pp174.
    7. Mabey R. The Complete New Herbal.Penguin.1988.pp107.
    8. Newall, anderson & Phillipson. Herbal Medicines. The Pharmaceutical Press.1996.
    9. Mabey R. The Complete New Herbal.Penguin.1988.pp47.
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