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Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: Silencing the Body’s Signals
The little capsules doctors recommend for minor aches are strong enough to help the whole body feel better. Read on to learn how pain relievers disrupt the pain process.
All throughout the human body—in skin, muscles, teeth, internal organs, you name it—specialized nerve cells called nociceptors stand guard, ready to alert the brain to different kinds of danger. When the body is injured, the damaged cells release a class of substances known as prostaglandins. (These are also what causes injured areas to swell and radiate zigzag lines into the air.) The nocireceptors are activated by the prostaglandin, triggering the brain to turn on its alarm system, which we “hear” in the form of pain.
Pain relievers work by muffling this alarm system, specifically by disabling one of the enzymes that kicks prostaglandin production into gear. Acetaminophen, found in Tylenol, works specifically on central-nervous-system cells, meaning that it will block pain messages from getting to the brain but won’t help reduce inflammation in other parts of the body. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—which include aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen—are more flexible, cutting off the prostaglandin supply wherever they find it in the body.
The Fine Print
Promotional value expires 180 days after purchase. Amount paid never expires. Must be 18 or older. Must sign waiver. Consultation required; non-candidates and other refund requests will be honored before service provided. Not valid with insurance. Appointment required. Merchant's standard cancellation policy applies (any fees not to exceed voucher price). Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as a gift. Valid only for option purchased. All goods or services must be used by the same person. May be repurchased every 30 days. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.