How Do Painkillers Work for the Brain?

Painkillers are often used to cause vast and severe pain relief. They can be taken orally, via injection, or through inhalation. There are different types of painkillers based on their effect on the body. Some of these painkillers are opioids and narcotics.

These pills have a depressant effect on the central nervous system that blocks nerve receptors from receiving signals from other body areas to control pain sensations. If a person overdoses on opioid-based drugs, it can easily lead to death, so before taking these pills, you must know the effects of painkillers on the brain.

Functioning of Brain –

  • Your brain has a lot of power to regulate your bodily functions. However, it can also transmit pain messages, which is why you feel it when you hit your head or break a bone. For your brain to send these pain signals, it must first be able to receive them from the injured area of your body.
  • When you feel pain, your brain receives a signal from the nerves in your body. The brain then sends these signals to the spinal cord, which ends up becoming a painful sensation that you feel in the injured area of your body.
  • Doctors believe this is an evolutionary protection mechanism to aid humans in surviving longer by avoiding additional harms, such as further injuries. But, simultaneously, they try to run away from their attackers.
  • Neurons are essential in transmitting these signals from the brain to the nerves in our body and vice versa. These neurons transmit these signals through an electrochemical process based on sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride ions.

Painkillers Working –

Painkillers work for the brain by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which plays a crucial role in this pain transmission pathway. In addition, it produces prostaglandins, which are responsible for transmitting pain signals from the tissue cells to the spinal cord.

Prostaglandins help to trigger inflammation at the site of injury, leading to nerve cell death and sending pain signals to the spinal cord. When painkillers block the production of these prostaglandins, it helps to prevent this nerve cell death.


Painkillers work for the brain not just to ease the pain of injury but also to ease inflammation. This is why painkillers are often used as a medical intervention for treating injury-related inflammation. Always consult your doctor if you think you have overdosed on painkillers and are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pains.

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