Understanding Tapentadol: How It Differs From Traditional Opioids

Tapentadol is a unique painkiller that works in two ways: it targets opioid receptors and inhibits noradrenaline reabsorption. This dual action makes it effective for various pain types, especially nerve-related pain, with fewer side effects than traditional opioids.

Understanding Tapentadol: How It Differs From Traditional Opioids

Abstract

Tapentadol stands out among pain-relief medications due to its unique dual-action approach. Unlike many painkillers, it works in two different ways, setting it apart from standard analgesics. Before we use a drug in humans, we often test it in animals, and these tests have shown that tapentadol has two main ways of easing pain: acting on mu-opioid receptors (a common target of regular pain medication) and blocking the re-absorption of noradrenaline, a body chemical that plays a role in pain relief. This dual action suggests that tapentadol could be effective in treating a wide range of pain types, from simple to complex nerve-related pain.

In animal studies, the role of blocking noradrenaline re-absorption seems particularly important. This action seems to be more influential than its opioid-like effects, especially in long-term and nerve-related pain. This finding is crucial because it highlights how tapentadol differs from traditional opioids. It suggests that tapentadol might be a better initial choice for treating nerve pain and mixed pain conditions.

When we look at human studies and what we’ve learned from patients using tapentadol, we see further evidence of its dual-action nature. One of the noteworthy aspects of tapentadol is its lower rate of certain side effects typically associated with opioids, at doses that provide similar pain relief. This suggests that the pain relief from tapentadol is not solely due to its opioid-like effects. Both animal studies and human clinical trials show that tapentadol’s effects are distinct from those of traditional opioids.

In simple terms, tapentadol is a pain relief medication that works in two main ways: it acts like a typical opioid to some extent but also has a unique action of stopping the body from re-absorbing a chemical (noradrenaline) that helps with pain relief. This dual-action makes it different from regular opioids. Animal studies suggest that this second action of blocking noradrenaline re-absorption is particularly important for long-term and nerve-related pain. This makes tapentadol potentially more suitable for these types of pain.

In practice, patients using tapentadol have shown a lower rate of certain side effects common with traditional opioids. This supports the idea that the pain relief it provides is not just due to its opioid-like effects. Overall, both research with animals and clinical trials with humans indicate that tapentadol has a unique profile, setting it apart from classical opioids, particularly in its potential as a first-choice treatment for nerve-related and mixed pain conditions.

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References

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2049463716657363

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1185/03007995.2011.611494

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.2147/JPR.S190160

 

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