Non-opioid analgesics are a diverse group of drugs that include anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) and paracetamol. The NSAIDs have potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity, and are among the most widely used drugs worldwide. In palliative medicine, they represent the first step of the World Health Organization analgesic ladder used for mild pain and they are an important supplement to opioids and adjuvant drugs at higher steps of the ladder.
Anti-inflammatories relieve pain and inflammation within the body by decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals known as prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are normally produced in response to tissue damage, and are known to play a major role in the processes of inflammation, pain and fever. Paracetamol also works by reducing the synthesis of prostaglandins.
Opioid pain management medications are used by healthcare providers to effectively relieve pain that cannot be treated with less powerful drugs. Common opioids include heroin and narcotic medications such as oxycodone, buprenorphine, morphine, codeine, methadone, and fentanyl. 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.
Opioids are a class of controlled pain-management drugs that contain natural or synthetic chemicals based on morphine, the active component of opium. These narcotics effectively mimic pain-relieving chemicals that the body produces naturally. Opioids are the most often prescribed pain-relievers because they are so effective. Many studies have shown that opioid analgesic drugs are safe and rarely cause clinical addiction or compulsive usage if taken as directed.
Opioid pain medication may be taken in a variety of ways. The preferred method is by mouth, since medication taken orally is convenient and usually inexpensive. When this method cannot be utilized, medication may be taken rectally or through patches placed on the skin.
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