There’s a whole bunch of people who claim we’re the result of intelligent design. That means every aspect of the bodies we now occupy while on this Earth was in the original plan. So, for millennia, we’ve had to put up with pain when the designer could have left out the pain receptors placed all over our bodies or installed a painkiller chemical dispensation system. We got adrenaline to increase the body’s performance. It would have been just as easy to give us something to calm down the pain. Would something as simple as an off-switch be too much to ask for?
So what’s pain for? Well, it’s a basic survival tool. Unlike a few insects that have eyes with all-round vision, we can easily be taken by surprise. As primates, we had a habit of walking through thick grasses and stepping on sharp objects or sleeping snakes. We were also prone to losing concentration at key moments and falling out of our trees. In our modern lives, we have surrounded ourselves with dangerous machinery. The price of not paying attention is injury. We’ve always been accidents waiting to happen. In this, it’s pain that gives us the first warning signals if we’re in trouble. More importantly, it tells us where the problem is and what kind of injury we’re likely to have picked up.
Now you might say this is good so far as it goes, but why can’t we switch it off when we’ve seen a doctor and got the treatment? The answer is simple. You and the doctor need to monitor the pain. If it starts to get worse, the treatment needs to change. It’s the same if the pain starts to spread. If you have switched off the pain, there’s no way you would know something different is needed. More to the point, if you switch off pain because you hurt your leg and then pick up a pan that’s too hot, do you have to wait to smell the cooking flesh? All the rest of your body needs the pain reflexes to be working, otherwise you might accidentally injure yourself and make everything worse.
So let’s be clear. There are no drugs in development that will switch off pain. Actually, no one is trying very hard to develop such a drug. Pain is too useful to want to switch it off altogether. In chronic cases where the pain in an inflamed joint is making life a misery, there’s a legitimate case to be made for a selective pill to turn off the pain receptors at a specific location. But no one has any idea how that would be done. All doctors can do is treat the joint itself and hope the pain will reduce naturally.
This is all building up to a message you don’t want to hear. We’re an overmedicated nation. More people die through the abuse of prescription drugs than of heart attacks. This habit is literally killing us. We should accept more pain in our lives and do without pills. If you find this unbearable, Tramadol is the strongest drug you should take. Equally important, don’t use Tramadol over long periods of time. This builds up tolerance, forcing a move to the opiates where the risk of dependence is more real.