Author(s): Bovill JG
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Abstract Opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the commonest drugs used to treat pain. Opioids mimic the actions of endogenous opioid peptides by interacting with mu, delta or kappa opioid receptors. The opioid receptors are coupled to G1 proteins and the actions of the opioids are mainly inhibitory. They close N-type voltage-operated calcium channels and open calcium-dependent inwardly-rectifying potassium channels. This results in hyperpolarization and a reduction in neuronal excitability. They also decrease intracellular cAMP which modulates the release of nociceptive neurotransmitters (e.g. substance P). Inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis by cyclooxygenase is the principal mode of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions of NSAIDs. Cyclo-oxygenase is inhibited irreversibly by aspirin and reversibly by other NSAIDs. The widespread inhibition of cyclo-oxygenase is responsible for many of the adverse effects of these drugs. NSAIDs also reduce prostaglandin production within the CNS. This is the main action of paracetamol.
This article was published in Eur J Anaesthesiol Suppl
and referenced in Rheumatology: Current Research