There are opioid and non-opioid analgesics. Which Analgesics Provide the Most Relief for Arthritis? They work by blocking pain signals to the brain or interfering with the brain’s interpretation of those signals. While each has a slightly different mechanism of action, analgesics for arthritis work by blocking a type of enzyme known as cyclooxygenase, or COX.
There two different types of this enzyme, COX-1 and COX-2, both of which are responsible for triggering inflammation and pain in response to injury. While people will most often recognize it by the brand names Tylenol, the active ingredient is contained in hundreds of over-the-counter cold, sinus, and flu remedies. While its mechanism of action is poorly understood, it appears to selectively inhibit COX activity in the brain and central nervous system only. As with acetaminophen, NSAIDs are available in many different formulations including pills, syrups, and patches. However, unlike acetaminophen, NSAIDs selectively inhibit COX-1 and COX-2 not just in the central nervous system but other parts of the body, as well. This expanded action contributes, in part, to the drugs’ analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic effects.
As per the name, COX-2 inhibitors suppress only the COX-2 enzyme, reducing pain and inflammation without triggering gastrointestinal side effects. 2005, followed soon after by a slew of other COX-2 inhibitors. For its part, Celebrex remains one of the best-selling drugs in the Pfizer pharmaceutical portfolio. Opioid drugs are medically used for pain relief, anesthesia, and to treat opiate addiction.
They are not associated with organ toxicity or cause any of side effects typically associated with NSAIDs. This is particularly true for older adults who are more prone to these effects. As a result, most opioid drugs are controlled substances requiring a doctor’s prescription. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as two million Americans are addicted opioid drugs. Both act directly on the central nervous system to decrease the sensation of pain. Drowsiness, lightheadedness, vomiting, and constipation are common side effects.