Inflammation and swelling are problems commonly treated with pain relievers. Many different kinds of pain relievers are available on the market, but all work through similar mechanisms to fight inflammation. Such pain killers block the prostaglandins released by the human body during the inflammatory process.
The inflammatory process is triggered whenever body tissues are injured. This injury could be due to trauma, irritating chemicals, viral infection, intense heat or other factor. In response to this injury, the body releases a range of chemicals.
One of the most important types of these inflammatory chemicals is prostaglandins, a group of potent hormone-like substances produced in human tissue to mediate a wide range of physiological functions, such as control of blood pressure, and modulation of inflammation. Prostaglandin production is triggered by cyclooxygenase enzymes, or COX enzymes.
Two types of prostaglandins are released. One type increases blood flow to the injured area. The increased blood flow dilutes harmful substances that may be present for example, during chemical injury, large quantities of oxygen and nutrients are carried to the injured area, bringing more of the proteins that will clot and seal the wound. The other type of prostaglandin is primarily responsible for blood clotting. These two prostaglandins work in harmony, one increasing blood flow to the area and the other reducing the blood flow from the wound through clotting. It is important to note that the prostaglandin production also increases the pain.
COX Inhibitors and Prostaglandins
Blocking prostaglandin production reduces the pain associated with inflammation. This is why COX inhibitors that block prostaglandin production have been used for pain relief. All pain relievers work the same way, by blocking the prostaglandins. It is interesting to note that aspirin was used for 100 years as a pain reliever before it was understood that it worked through blocking COX enzymes.
COX-2 enzymes, responsible for increasing blood flow to inflamed area, also induce pain associated with injury. This is why the COX-2 enzyme inhibitors are thought to provide more relief from pain and swelling than non-selective drugs that block both COX-1 and COX-2.
There are several ailments that cause chronic or long-term inflammation and pain, such as arthritis and chronic back pain. These ailments have been heavily treated with the COX-2 enzyme inhibitors. To find out more about various forms of arthritis treated with COX-2 inhibitors, visit the arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sections of this site.
While many drugs have shown to be very effective in reducing inflammation-related pain, certain pain relievers have been pulled from the market due to harmful side effects. One of the more notable examples is the once commonly prescribed drug Vioxx. Because the maker of Vioxx failed to disclose the potentially lethal cardiovascular problems caused by this pharmaceutical, it might be held liable for any harm suffered by patients who have taken Vioxx. If you suspect that your symptoms might be due to Vioxx ingestion, please contact a skilled personal injury attorney to determine if compensation might be available. Many of the top personal injury lawyers can recommend talented attorneys who specialize in other areas of law to provide comprehensive legal services for Vioxx victims. For example, many injury attorneys can suggest skilled family lawyers, car accident attorneys and DUI specialists.