– when we take painkillers, is the pain still there and we just don’t feel it anymore? Or does it actually ‘kill the pain’ completely?


Asking this as I have a horrible throat infection making it incredibly painful to swallow, and therefore difficult to eat and drink. I have to stay on top of my painkillers every four hours or the pain starts to come back, I’d just love to know how this actually works.

In: 868


It all depends on the painkiller. Stuff like aspirin and Ibuprofen are what they call anti inflammatory. They work by relieving inflammation in the areas of pain.

Opioids on the other hand work by attaching themselves to nerve receptors and blocking pain signals to the brain.

As the meds wear off the pain returns.

Pain is just a feeling – so if you don’t feel it, it’s not there. When your body gets damaged in some way, it sends signals to your brain to let you know you’re hurt. Painkillers interrupt the pain signals before they get to the brain. The actual damage is still there – in your case swollen and inflamed tissue from infection – but the pain is gone.

It would depend on the cause of the pain and the method of pain reduction. If your pain were due to inflammation, treating it with an anti-inflammatory drug might remove the pain until the inflammation returned.

Acetaminophen reduces your brains ability to sense pain. Same with opioids.

Ibuprofen, and naproxen are anti-inflammatories and actually reduce the pain.

Many times in the hospitals, at least here in Canada, they will give you one of each, and they work together synergistically.