Pain is a reality that anyone wounded in combat has to face, and the fact that combat zones are usually not within the vicinity of facilities where medical services are available means that wounded soldiers have to suffer through the pain en route to these facilities.
However, a new tool is being used by Navy corpsmen assigned to Marine units in Afghanistan, in order to help numb the pain of those who are severely wounded in combat.
The tool is called a “morphine lollipop,” a berry-flavored lozenge atop a plastic stick which is inserted into the mouth, near the cheek. Despite its name, however, the active ingredient in the pain-numbing lollipop is fentanyl, a far more powerful painkiller when compared against morphine. The fentanyl dissolves into the nervous system as the wounded Marine sucks on the lozenge, and the painkiller is quickly absorbed throughout his body.
Since the Second World War, the traditional morphine syrette was used; it is injected into a large muscle through a small needle on a collapsible tube.
Rear Adm. Michael Anderson, the top Navy medical officer to the Marine Corps, shared that studies on pain control in the battlefield suggested that during “the subsequent shock that can ensue as we inject the morphine … blood profusion doesn’t allow the morphine to get throughout the body because they’re injecting into a large muscle in the periphery which may be constricted.”
Corpsmen, however, will continue to carry morphine syrettes as these are still an effective means of controlling pain; the lollipops, however, present a potentially quicker option for pain control.