What Are AnalgesicsAnalgesics, also known as painkillers, are a class of drugs that are generally used to reduce or relieve pain, an unlikable emotional and sensory experience in a human body linked with potential or actual tissue damage, or expressed in terms of such damage. The term “Analgesic” is derived from two Greek words – (1) an ("without") and (2) algos ("pain").
In other words, an analgesic is a medicinal agent, which relieves or reduces pain by heightening the threshold level in a body, without hampering consciousness or varying other sensory modalities. In short, therapeutic substances that diminish or reduce pain are termed as analgesics.
Classification of AnalgesicsDrugs that are included in analgesics work in diverse ways to diminish or relieve pain. They act mainly on the central and peripheral nervous system. Narcotic drugs such as pathedine, synthetic drugs such as ketorolac, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the salicylates (aspirin), and a variety of drugs are included in analgesics. However, there are a few exceptions too. For example, tri-cyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants are frequently used to treat neuropathic pain syndromes, but these drugs are not considered in analgesics.
Based on the narcosis properties of the analgesic drugs, analgesics can be classified into the following groups.
NarcoticThe narcotic analgesics are the agents that cause sleep or loss of consciousness (narcosis) in conjunction with their analgesic effect. In other words, drugs that directly act on central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain are termed as narcotic analgesics. In addition, the term narcotic becomes associated with the addictive properties of opioids and other CNS depressant agents. The opiates and the derivatives of opiates (i.e. opioids) are the most frequently used narcotic analgesics. For this reason, in United States, these analgesics are also known as opioid analgesics (e.g. morphine, codeine, pathedine, etc).
Learn more about Weak and Strong Opioids.