Morphine And Other Opioids In Human Patients

Among all the drugs that relieve pain, opium and its derivative morphine, are certainly the best known. When morphine is given to patients who are experiencing severe pain, they often say the pain is less intense or that it no longer exists. Other patients say the pain is still present, but it just does not bother them. Thus, morphine affects both the sensation of pain and the patient's response to the painful stimulus. It is generally believed that morphine acts in both the spinal cord and the brain. In the spinal cord, morphine inhibits the flow of information about painful stimuli from the spinal cord to the brain. In the brain, morphine alters pain perception by modifying activity in the descending pain-control system. In addition to relieving pain, morphine-like drugs produce a sense of pleasure (or euphoria) in some patients. Morphine and other opioids are the most effective drugs known for the relief of pain. Although their usefulness is sometimes limited by the fact that they can produce De-

PENDENCE, this is generally not a problem in clinical settings.

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