analgesic (ănˌəljēˈzĭk) [key], any of a diverse group of drugs used to relieve pain. Analgesic drugs include the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as the salicylates, acetaminophen, narcotic drugs such as morphine, and synthetic drugs with morphinelike action such as meperidine (Demerol) and propoxyphene (Darvon). Aspirin and other NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen and naproxen) reduce fever and inflammation as well as relieve pain. Narcotic analgesics and the morphinelike synthetic drugs depress the central nervous system and alter the perception of pain. They are used to alleviate pain not relieved by the NSAIDs. NSAIDs and other analgesics are also used in combination, as in Tylenol with codeine and Darvocet (Darvon and acetaminophen). Recently, patient-controlled analgesic techniques have been introduced, in which patients have the option of injecting small quantities of narcotic type analgesics to control their own pain. Microprocessor-controlled injections may be made through intravenous catheters, or through a catheter into the epidural (covering of the spinal cord) area. In addition to analgesic drugs, various techniques, such as acupuncture, hypnosis (see hypnotism), and biofeedback, are used to alleviate pain.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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