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Word of the Week: Analgesia

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Each week, Verywell explains a term from health, medicine, science, or technology.

Analgesia

How to say itAnalgesia (an-ul-jee-see-ah)

What it means: Something that keeps you from feeling pain without putting you to sleep.

Where it comes from: From Greek/Latin, analgēsía, "lack of feeling."

Close up of pink pills on a pink background.

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Where you might see or hear itAnalgesia is a treatment, like a medication, that prevents you from feeling pain while you are awake (conscious). It's different from treatments that make you unable to feel pain because they put you to sleep (unconscious), like anesthesia before a surgery.

There are different kinds of analgesic medications that can prevent pain, such as pills, creams, and patches. There are also medications that were not created to treat pain, like antidepressants, but can be helpful (adjuvant analgesics).

When you might want to use it: There are many situations where you might want to talk to your provider about analgesia. For example, if you are in an accident and are badly hurt, or you have major surgery, your provider might prescribe you a strong medication that blocks pain.

On the other hand, if you have a chronic condition like arthritis that causes less severe pain, your provider might recommend that you try taking an analgesic medication like ibuprofen that you can buy over-the-counter (OTC).

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