Chronic Pain

Tylenol, the New Mood Elevator?

It has long been known that Acetaminophen (Tylenol) treats pain. I give it to my daughter when she has a fever, or pain that is too much to bear. It is mixed into pills containing opioids in order to improve the pain relieving qualities of those drugs and it is known to have opiate sparing properties. That is, it relieves pain even when a stronger pain reliever is also being used.

Not all pain comes from the body. When you injure yourself, your brain and spinal cord go through changes that amplify your pain. This has some advantages for survival.  If you break your arm, the brain will make your pain feel more intense to encourage you to rest and let the broken bones knit. Acetaminophen will also relieve this type of pain and help prevent this amplification from occurring. It is a well established pain reliever.

In the study above, researchers found that acetaminophen doesn’t just ease physical pain. It eases psychic pain.  People who were given the drug before being exposed to emotional stress handled it more easily than those who weren’t given acetaminophen.  Pain doesn’t just come from the body; it also comes from the brain. The suffering that we feel is directly linked to the pain we feel. Things that ease suffering will ease pain and vice versa. It doesn’t have to just be a pill.