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Medications for Back Pain: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Jan 12, 2018

male hands holding blue naproxen sodium tablets for back pain

Understanding Back Pain

Back pain is a common medical problem that affects millions of people in the U.S. Back pain can range from minor to acute, and it almost always affects the lower region of the back.

In some cases, back pain goes away after a few weeks; however, there are times when back pain can last for months or even years. Back pain can be brought on by a number of issues such as accidents, pulled muscles or ligaments due to sports or even brought on by age. The pain can be quite severe in many cases.

Once the pain is localized, your physician can explore the best treatment options. There are a number of medications — both over-the-counter and prescription that can alleviate the pain.

There are guidelines that your doctor will use to determine which medication will best serve your needs:

  • The length of time you have been experiencing back pain.
  • Are you experiencing other symptoms like spasms?
  • Your medical history.

There is both good and bad when it comes to back pain medications. While you may see a great deal of relief, there can be side effects that go along with it.

Regardless of which medication your doctor prescribes, you should be very careful when taking it. Understand the directions to the letter to avoid accidents and complications.

Types of Back Pain Medication

Some of the most common medications for back pain include acetaminophen, muscle relaxers, topical medication, opioids and narcotics, anti-depressants and anti-seizure medication.

OTC Pain Relievers

Acetaminophen, naproxen sodium and ibuprofen are drugs that you can get over the counter. They are effective for blocking the pain, but they can have both short-term and long-term stomach issues like diarrhea, vomiting, ulcers and constipation.

Muscle Relaxers and Opioid Pain Medications

Muscle relaxers are not a particularly good choice for the simple fact—they don’t affect the spine. Muscle relaxers can also induce drowsiness, confusion and interfere with other medications.

While opioids and narcotics offer the best relief for chronic back pain, the side effects can be severe. Opioids and narcotics work by acting on the brain’s pain receptors. While some opioids are mild, others are stronger than morphine. Opioids are highly-addictive. According to National Institute of Health statistic, opioid abuse is on the rise, and the number of overdose-related deaths in the U.S. has tripled over the last year.

Due to the devastating effects of opioids and narcotics, many doctors are now opting to rely on other medications for chronic lower back pain. Aside from the potential addiction, users can also experience drowsiness, allergic reactions and severe constipation.

Steroids and Other Drugs

Corticosteroids are injected directly. The drug is ideal for alleviating pain and reducing swelling. It should also be used as a short-term remedy. Corticosteroids also come with side effects like elevating blood pressure, producing fluid in the body, gaining of weight and changing moods. Due to the side effects, most doctors will limit shots to four per year.

While anti-seizure medications are not as commonly used as others, they are believed to help back pain by working the brain’s electrical signals. This medication like all the others should be taken with care. Side effects include weight gain, upset stomach, drowsiness and confusion.

Medications are an effective way to aid individuals who suffer from chronic back pain. Many people have been able to regain a normal life by using some of these medications. But, many of these drugs come with side effects that cannot be ignored. If you suffer from chronic back pain, speak with your doctor about your options.

Find Relief with BPC

You should also do your research so you can ask informed questions. If you have legitimate concerns about a certain medication, ask your doctor for a viable alternative—at Back Pain Centers of America (BPC), we’re dedicated to getting you the treatment you deserve. Pain management is often a temporary solution before the inevitability of surgical intervention. If you’re considering back surgery, you know that finding a good surgeon is essential. BPC can help you find a dedicated, board-certified spine specialist near you who can provide the treatment you need which can lead to the real relief you truly need. Call us today at 1-844-201-1308.

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over 87 million people suffer
from back pain

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