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Does Ibuprofen Help With Lower Back Pain

Finding The Right Treatment

How to Fix Lower Back Pain off to the Side

Most cases of lower back pain are comparable to the common cold.

Depending on each patients unique situation and condition, conservative treatments and over-the-counter pain relievers may not address the underlying problem. In these cases, stronger medications or perhaps surgery might be the answer. Our goal is to provide the right treatment for the right condition, for the right patient, at the right time.

Times have changed, and the practice of medicine changes with time. As we learn more about lower back pain and how it works, well continue to refine our treatment recommendations. But our goal remains the same: using evidence-based medicine to give our patients safe, effective relief from back pain.

Prescription Strength Vs Over The Counter

You may have heard about prescription-strength versions of Aleve and Advil. Doctors may prescribe you a higher dose of either of these medications if you have severe pain. There are also a variety of other NSAIDs that are only available by prescription, such as meloxicam, diclofenac, and indomethacin.

Get Discounts on Prescription Pain Relievers.

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Look Into Getting A New Mattress

How old is your bed? You may be surprised to learn that the average life span of a mattress is less than 10 years. Theres no hard-and-fast rule, says Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the division of pain medicine at Stanford University, but if your mattress is sagging significantly or is more than six to eight years old, Id think about getting a new one.

Something else to consider: A firm mattress may not do your back any favors, says Carmen R. Green, MD, a physician at the University of Michigan Back & Pain Center. A number of studies over the years suggest that people with lower back pain who sleep on medium-firm mattresses do better than those with firm beds, she says.

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A Safer Alternative To Ibuprofen For Back Pain

Back pain is one of the worlds most common health problems in the world today, and it results in most cases of disability globally. It is also the most common cause of disability among younger individuals. For example, in the US, lower back pain is the leading cause of disability for those age 45 and under. A 2006 estimate was that 26 million adult Americans under the age of 65 were experiencing chronic lower back pain.

Lower back pain also leads to other problems for adults. According to researchers, not only do 28% of adults with lower back pain say that it limits what they can accomplish but lower back pain also leads to the risk of serious psychological distress being increased fourfold.

As lower back pain problems become more common, the source of the issue is becoming clear. In many cases, lower back pain is the result of long-term injuries. While a person may occasionally experience trauma that leads to immediate back problems, most people cant even identify the origin of the problem as it happened a long ago.

Low Back Pain: What Role Does Medication Play In The Treatment Of Non

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Painkillers are only recommended in addition to active treatments such as exercises and movement for example, to relieve severe back pain or to help you start moving more again. Because of the associated risks, though, they shouldn’t be used over a long period of time.

Low back pain usually goes away on its own after a while. In most cases it’s not clear what’s causing the pain. It is then called “non-specific” back pain. If low back pain lasts a long time or keeps returning, it is often difficult to treat. Good-quality studies have so far found that only few treatments help. Staying active and moving enough are among the most effective things you can do yourself.

The medications used include over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants. Because medication can have side effects especially when taken over longer periods of time it shouldn’t be taken continuously, but rather only for a short while, for example when the pain is especially severe. What’s more, painkillers only have a limited effect in the treatment of non-specific low back pain.

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Treating Upper Back And Lower Back Pain

Most adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives.1 Both upper and lower back pain can occur for a variety of reasons ranging from injury to bad posture. While you might not always know the root cause, there are steps you can take to start feeling better and get back to your regular routine.

Managing and Treating Back Pain

If you have back pain, you can take effective measures to alleviate your symptoms quickly. Try the following athome tips to help you manage the symptoms of back pain until you start feeling better:

Stretch it out

Try a few simple stretches. Stand up and put your hands on your back. Then bend slowly backwards just a little. Hold and release.

Adjust your posture

Having good posture makes a huge difference. Try sitting and standing with your shoulders back, and using a chair with good lower back support.

Get some sleep

Make sure you have a good firm mattress. If you sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees while you sleep to support your back.

Lift carefully

If youre lifting something heavy, bend from your knees and use the strength of your legs to lift to reduce pressure on your back and avoid further injury.

Treating Back Pain

If you are already suffering from back pain, overthecounter treatment can help alleviate symptoms and reduce sensations of pain. For fast relief, try MOTRIN® Liquid Gels. They contain ibuprofen, a fastacting pain reliever that works to stop pain where it starts.

Cbd And Chronic Pain: The Facts

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recently released a report on the current state of chronic pain management, which found that 1 in 5 Americans live with daily chronic pain. This statistic is up from 2010 when it was just 1 in 3.

The report also found that while opioids are often prescribed for treating pain, their long-term use can actually result in greater physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Its also well-documented that ongoing opioid use is linked with increased risk of misuse, abuse, and addiction, which makes finding an alternative even more important.

CBD oil has been touted as a viable pain relief option for several years, particularly after cannabidiols potential benefits were studied more closely in the 2000s. Since then, several medical groups have concluded that CBD does have significant analgesic properties. A number of research studies have also found that CBD may be just as effective or more effective than traditional chronic pain management treatments, including opioids.

CBD has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which is often associated with alleviate pain. Finally, CBD oil is nonintoxicating and doesnt cause the side effects that many common chronic pain medications do.

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Verdict: Ibuprofen Vs Naproxen For Back Pain

So which is better for back pain: naproxen or ibuprofen? The answer is that they are equally effective and you can take either for back pain based on your preference. Not only do NSAIDs relieve pain, but they reduce any inflammation from an acute back injury. Make sure to take your NSAID with food to minimize stomach upset. You also need to take your NSAID regularly rather than as needed for the first 3-5 days after a back injury to reduce to inflammation in your back.

We do not recommend NSAIDs longer than 2 weeks without the advice of your doctor since NSAIDs can cause side effects such as stomach ulcers if taken for several months. Your doctor may recommend an antacid such as lansoprazole if you need to take an NSAID for longer. We also do not recommend NSAIDs if you have had a history of heart attack or stroke, kidney disease, or previous bleeding in your stomach or intestines.

After your back begins to feel better, you will want to try some exercises to prevent future back pain. Click on our article: 6 Best Exercises for Chronic Low Back Pain.

What Nsaid Dose Should I Take

Quick Lower Back Pain Relief With 3 Easy Steps

You should take ibuprofen or naproxen on a regular basis for the first 3 to 5 days after an injury, rather than taking the medication as needed for pain. The reason you want to take an NSAID around the clock for the first few days is that the inflammation in your back is at its greatest right after an injury and NSAID will help reduce that inflammation. You can take EITHER ibuprofen or naproxen, NOT both. The recommended dose is the same as the prescription strength so please check with your doctor first if these doses are right for you:

If you do not like taking tablets, then you can try diclofenac 1% gel , which is a gel that you can apply to your back. This gel is an NSAID that is available over-the-counter and is usually used for arthritis of the hands and knees. My back surgeon told me that diclofenac 1% gel works for some of his patients with back pain, but there is no medical evidence to back it up.

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Safety Of Ibuprofen Or Naproxen

To prevent side effects from NSAIDs such as ibuprofen or naproxen, you should take the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration necessary . You should also take ibuprofen or naproxen with food to minimize stomach upset.

If you have one or more of the following medical conditions below, do NOT take ibuprofen or naproxen without your doctors permission :

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Ulcers or bleeding in your digestive tract
  • History of stroke or heart attack
  • You are taking blood thinner medications
  • You are taking steroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone for a month or longer

For more detailed information on the safety of Naproxen and Ibuprofen, click on this article: Is Naproxen or Ibuprofen Better for Back Pain?

Which Painkiller Is Good For Back Pain

If you have mild low back pain, an over-the-counter NSAID may provide adequate pain relief. You can combine an NSAID with conservative measures like rest, heat, or ice. Examples of these back pain medications include ibuprofen and naproxen sodium . Topical pain relievers also work for some people. Using topical and oral NSAID together is not typically advised, but some people find the combination very effective in treating their pain. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about combining oral with topical NSAIDs. Generally, most mild-intensity back pain responds to these treatments.

However, should your pain persist, do not take over-the-counter pain medications for a long time without a doctors advice. Overuse of these drugs can lead to serious side effects. If you continue to feel pain, while figuring out what is the root of the problem, your doctor can prescribe a short course of other medications such as prescription NSAIDs , muscle relaxants, antidepressants, or opioid pain pills. In addition to oral pain medications, patients are recommended to obtain comprehensive care by undergoing physical therapy, aqua therapy, acupuncture, or massage.

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What Medications Can Be Used To Get Pain Relief From Low Back Pain

There are various types of medications that can be used to treat back pain. Some of them are available over the counter, while others are prescription medications. Here is a brief overview of the medications that can be effective against lower back pain.


This is usually the first line of treatment for lower back pain. Acetaminophen relieves minor aches and pains. However, this medicine is not an anti-inflammatory drug, meaning it does not reduce swelling and inflammation. Therefore, it may or may not be effective, even for minor back discomfort. The advantage, however, is that acetaminophen is gentler on the stomach compared to NSAIDs and is less likely to cause stomach bleeding.

Keep in mind that acetaminophen can damage the liver at high doses. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration , you should not take more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen in one day. Doctors often advise a maximum daily dose of 3,000 mg. Generally, it is highly recommended that one should not take more than that 3,000 mg limit of acetaminophen, especially if it is consumed on a regular basis. Keep in mind that Extra Strength Tylenol has more acetaminophen than regular strength Tylenol .

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

These drugs are a group of pain relievers that are available over-the-counter or with a prescription. They help to reduce pain, swelling, and fever. NSAIDs can treat back pain in most cases when it is mild to moderate.

When It Might Be Time For Back Surgery

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For example, we might consider surgery if a patient has one of the symptoms we mentioned above that warrant an immediate visit to the doctor: numbness in an arm or leg, trouble with bowel or bladder control, or weakness in an arm or leg. These could be signs of a neurological condition. Other symptoms of a neurological condition include trouble using the hands or frequent falls in addition to back pain.Mechanical issues, or problems with the physical structure of the spine, also are conditions we can correct with surgery. Mechanical issues often show up in one of these ways:

  • Back pain thats worse when moving, sitting, or standing a certain way, as opposed to constant pain
  • Deformity or other structural issues with the back
  • Pain thats significantly worse when standing or sitting upright and supporting body weight

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Why Pain Medicine May Not Work And What Will Relieve Your Pain

One of the reasons why research may find that NSAIDs do not work on back pain is due to discomfort related to sciatica. This is a type of pain caused by herniated discs or nerve issues. Since sciatica is not inflammatory, painkillers like Advil will not work well to relieve that pain.

If your back pain also shoots down one or both of your legs, it is likely nerve-related issues. It is vital to have your back pain checked out by your doctor or chiropractor so that you will better understand whether NSAIDs can help you or whether you should choose a different type of treatment.

Usually, sciatica pain goes away after several weeks or several months. During this time, however, your doctor can prescribe you oral steroids or physical therapy. If your back pain is found to be inflammatory instead of due to a sciatica, NSAIDs may provide some relief but not much. It may also not work for everyone.

If you want to relieve your back pain, you may want to take part in some lifestyle interventions and chiropractic treatments. Physical activity has been found to help relieve back pain. Specifically, exercise routines that strengthen the core of your body have been found helpful. Taking part in Pilates, where your abdominal muscles and obliques as well as spinal muscles are strengthened, is recommended.

What Is The Dosage Of Ibuprofen Vs Naproxen

Ibuprofen dosage instructions

  • For minor aches, mild to moderate pain, menstrual cramps, and fever, the usual adult dose is 200 or 400 mg every 4 to 6 hours.
  • Arthritis is treated with 300 to 800 mg 3 or 4 times daily.
  • When under the care of a physician, the maximum dose of ibuprofen is 3.2 g daily. Otherwise, the maximum dose is 1.2 g daily.
  • Individuals should not use ibuprofen for more than 10 days for the treatment of pain or more than 3 days for the treatment of a fever unless directed by a physician.
  • Children 6 months to 12 years of age usually are given 5-10 mg/kg of ibuprofen every 6-8 hours for the treatment of fever and pain. The maximum dose is 40 mg/kg daily.
  • Juvenile arthritis is treated with 20 to 40 mg/kg/day in 3-4 divided doses.
  • Ibuprofen should be taken with meals to prevent stomach upset.

Naproxen dosage instructions

  • Naproxen should be given with food to reduce upset stomach.
  • The usual adult dose for pain is 250 every 6 to 8 hours or 500 mg twice-daily using regular naproxen tablets.
  • The usual dose for Naprelan controlled release tablets is 750 to 1000 mg given once daily.
  • The usual dose for EC-Naprosyn is 375-500 mg twice daily.
  • The dose for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis is 500 to 1000 mg every 12 hours.
  • Menstrual cramps are treated with 250 mg every 6 to 8 hours after an initial dose of 500 mg.

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Back Pain And Spine Health

Back pain stems from many different underlying causes. You may be experiencing a premature wearing of the discs between the vertebrae, or a disc may be bulging. There may also be pinched nerves due to spinal misalignments, which can result in pain along with numbness or tingling. You can also get arthritis in your spine.

However, all of these issues may go back to the spine being in a stressed position. What may be causing the stress on the back? You might be surprised how often the real underlying issue is in the upper cervical spine. Why do upper cervical misalignments have this effect throughout the back?

When the top bones in the neck become misaligned, it can affect the balance of the head. The body springs into action to correct this severe issue. Unfortunately, that means changes will take place along the spine, including in the surrounding soft tissue. The results can be misalignments throughout the back, pinched nerves, disc problems, or even early onset arthritis in the spine.

To receive long-term relief from back pain, you need to get to the source of the problem. Tiny corrections of alignment for the C1 and C2 can have far-reaching effects, bringing the spine into better position and allowing the surrounding soft tissue to heal and stabilize. This can get the spine out of the stressed situation that is causing wear or irritating nerves. Therefore, upper cervical adjustment may be your first step in finding natural back pain relief.


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