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Pharmacological approaches to pain. 3: Adjuvants for neuropathic and bone pain 

Pharmacological approaches to pain. 3: Adjuvants for neuropathic and bone pain
Chapter:
Pharmacological approaches to pain. 3: Adjuvants for neuropathic and bone pain
Author(s):

Renée McCulloch

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199595105.003.0022
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date: 20 January 2020

The Latin word ‘adjuvans’ means to help or facilitate, particularly to reach a goal. Adjuvants are defined as drugs with a primary indication other than pain that have analgesic properties in some painful conditions. They include numerous drugs in diverse classes. They are often considered to be second-line strategies, but according to the World Health Organization (WHO) pain ladder they should be instituted as soon as a pain type that might respond is identified. They occur at all three steps of the pain ladder. Although they can be used alone, adjuvants are often prescribed in combination with other medication — such as opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or paracetamol (acetaminophen) — in anticipation of a synergistic response. They are therefore referred to as ‘co-analgesics.’ Identifying a patient’s pain syndrome by forming a clear understanding of the clinical scenario in combination with careful assessment and measurement of pain is important for both diagnosis and treatment.

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