Medicine for Lower Back Pain
Back pain is increasing. Studies show about one in four Americans have experienced back pain in the last three months, which makes it one of the most common types of pain. Back pain is also the most frequent disability in adults under the age of 45.
So what kind of back pain medicine should you take so that you can attempt to be functional? Unfortunately, back pain medicine cannot heal the back; however, it can relieve pain so that other options, such as physical therapy, have a chance to work. There are several to choose from with both over the counter (OTC) and prescription options available.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID)
- Strength NSAIDs
- Topical Anti-inflammatory
- Muscle Relaxer
- Narcotics (Opioids)
One of the first back pain medicines that you should consider is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These are sold over the counter and help to relieve the inflammation that is causing the pain. These are some of the milder drugs that would be the first step in treatment.
There are also prescription strength NSAIDs, such as Celebrex, Voltaren, Mobic, and Relafen. Even though these back pain medicines are on the milder side of pain relief, they still carry risks and side effects if used for an extended period of time, such as intestinal problems, ulcers, and kidney damage.
Taking NSAIDs for an extended period could mean that you have chronic pain, which is pain that is long lasting. It would be important at this point to see a doctor to explore if you are using right medication at the right dosage, or if there are any other treatment options available for your specific condition.
Anti-inflammatory medications can also be used in topical forms that are available over the counter. The medication is applied directly to your lower back. These medications have the potential for side effects, however, the risk is usually lower. When looking for a topical treatment, look for ingredients such as capsaicin, camphor, menthol or eucalyptus oil.
If you don’t get relief using over the counter pain relievers or prescription NSAIDs, the doctor could suggest adding a muscle relaxer, such as Flexeril or Soma. There are many brand names, as well as generic forms of muscle relaxers. These back pain medicines help relieve the spasms that are causing the pain. All of these medications have similar side effects, with the most common one being drowsiness.
For individuals with long-lasting or chronic back pain, muscle relaxers just are not enough and stronger painkillers are needed. Narcotics, also called opioids, are what is usually used. These medications work to relieve pain by acting on the pain receptors in the brain. Some common opioids are Vicodin and Tylenol with codeine and stronger ones such as morphine. Side effects include drowsiness, constipation, addiction, and allergic reactions.
Corticosteroids are another type of back pain medicine that can relieve inflammation and lessen pain. They can be administered either orally, or injected into the site of pain. They can be helpful in getting the inflammation under control before it becomes a chronic problem.
If back pain persists beyond over the counter remedies, and you need medical intervention, there are several medicinal options, as well as other treatments available. Explore them carefully with your physician.