Find The Right Medications For You And Use Them Correctly
Just about everyone gets back pain. In fact, an estimated 80% of people will seek medical attention for back pain at some point in their lives. Most of the time, popping a few over-the-counter pain relievers does the trick. But are drugs the best way to combat regular flare-ups?
“Medication can be a crucial part of managing and treating occasional and recurring pain, and can help you stay pain-free and active, but you have to use the right ones for you, and in the right way,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, former clinical chief of rheumatology at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
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Seeking Relief: Will You Get Pain Medication
In the emergency room, doctors typically start with prescribing lower level medications. These are similar to the ones youd buy at the pharmacy. Often, they dont significantly reduce pain, and patients are disappointed.
Strong pain medications, like opioids and benzodiazepines, have tight restrictions for prescription, and are not routinely prescribed to people with back pain. Research has shown that medication such as opioids and benzodiazepines can be harmful when given as first-line treatments for back pain.
People often leave the ED unhappy because they dont get any relief or diagnosis for their pain . Patient review forms from the ED often say they didnt do anything for me.
If theres no medical emergency, the advice to stay as active as you can and to not even get an x-ray doesnt seem worth 5 hours in the waiting room.
Can Back Pain Be Prevented
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy
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What To Do For A Back Spasm
The best first treatment is moist heat. Moist heat relaxes a cramped muscle and increases blood supply to the muscle. You should apply heat for about 20 minutes. A warm, moist towel works well, or a hot shower. Rest your back until the spasm goes away and then try some gentle stretching. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever right away may mask your pain and cause you to start using your back muscles too soon, advises King.
You may have heard that putting an ice on your back can help but Dr. King advises against this home treatment. Ice can make a sore muscle stiff and slow down blood supply which is important for healing, says King.
Although you should rest your back during a back spasm, prolonged rest is not recommended. You dont want to push through the pain, but once the spasm is gone, you can try sitting up and then standing. Gently turn and bend your back from side to side. If you dont have pain, try taking a walk. Then, gradually return to normal activity, says King.
Pain In The Ed: What To Really Expect
The ED is the place to go when youre having a medical emergency.
Back pain can hurt a lot. So much, that it can be overwhelming and feel like an emergency. But pack pain is almost never an emergency, and should not be considered one unless it is present with the symptoms described above. Moreover, the emergency department cant deliver the kind of help that people with back pain need.
If youre thinking of a trip to the emergency room, youre probably expecting that youll be able to get relief from your pain and have the cause of the pain identified. You expect the doctors there to run certain tests , give you a diagnosis, and then give you a shot or a pill that relieves your pain, at least temporarily.
With all the amazing technology and powerful drugs we have now days, its easy to think that all of this is possible, but its usually not. And so, people often leave the ED disappointed, with their expectations unmet. We have realized that many of these traditional ways of treating back pain simply dont work, and sometimes they can even make your pain worse in the long run.
If you have back pain, the best thing the emergency room will be able to do is make sure you dont have an emergency health condition. Once an emergency is ruled out, some simple education, reassurance, and guidelines for getting moving again are the best help we can give you. Usually, people expect to receive pain relief, and they are often disappointed.
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Inhale Slowly And Deeply For A Count Of 5 Seconds Pause 1 Second And Exhale 3
Visualization will help by imagining a tight knot being unraveled as you inhale. Picture the muscles extending as you inhale to stretch your rib cage fully.
As the muscles are contracting intensely, they are also over contracting, making it counter-productive.
Since you have already stopped moving, you are now trying to shut off the muscles need also to do this. Breathing deeply is key to relaxing a muscle which is becoming progressively shorter and more painful.
As you try to relax, avoid any movements that allow the muscle to shorten
Because of the intensity, duration and source of the injury, it is natural to react and to contract your body further. Even unwillingly.
To avoid this, focus on slowly inhaling while at the same time minimizing your movements. When in contraction, the reduced circulation and the build up of lactic acid makes you feel much worse.
Lower Back Pain: What Could It Be
Do you have lower back pain? You are not alone. Anyone can experience lower back pain at any time, even if you dont have a prior injury or any of the risk factors. It is not always serious and can often get better on its own. But in some cases pain is your bodys way of telling you that something isnt right.
Learn more about lower back pain and what causes it from rehabilitation physician Akhil Chhatre, M.D., who specializes in back pain in the Johns Hopkins Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
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What Are Some Integrative Therapies And Healing Practices To Consider For Low Back Pain
Low back pain most often results from a combination of physical, mental, and emotional factors.
Many people suffering from low back pain have started using integrative therapies: in a 2003 NIH survey, 54 percent of individuals with back or neck pain report using these therapies annually. An integrative approach works well with low back pain, not only to relieve or eliminate immediate pain, but to reduce long-term recurrence and minimize physical limitations.
When It Comes To Back Pain Medications You Have Optionsa Lot Of Them How Do You Know Which One Is Right For You
Back painand the medications that treat itis almost as varied as the people who have it. For some people, the pain is minor and over-the-counter treatments work just fine. For others, managing pain requires more than OTC medications can provide. So what do you do? You call the pros. Working with your doctor or medical professionals who specialize in pain management can help you find the right meds.
What’s the best medication for your back pain?
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When To Call A Professional
Contact your doctor if:
- Severe back pain makes it impossible for you to do your normal daily activities.
- Your back pain follows significant trauma.
- Mild back pain gets worse after a few days or persists more than a week or two.
- Back pain is accompanied by weight loss, fever, chills or urinary symptoms.
- You develop sudden weakness, numbness or tingling in a leg.
- You develop numbness in the groin or rectum or difficulty controlling bladder or bowel function.
- You have had cancer previously and you develop persistent back pain.
About Chronic Back Pain
Most lower back pain is short-term or acute, lasting for several days to several weeks. But, it often resolves on its own with no residual function loss. Most acute back pain is mechanical, which means theres a disturbance in how the backs components muscle, spine, nerves and intervertebral discs fit together and move.
Chronic back pain, on the other hand, persists for over 12 weeks even if doctors treat an underlying cause or injury. Around 20 percent of individuals with lower back pain end up developing chronic low back pain with symptoms that persist for at least one year.
If youve been suffering from chronic back pain, its important you visit us at the OIP to receive a diagnosis for your condition and start treatment to experience pain relief.
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Diagnosis For Upper Back Pain
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose upper back pain. To get the diagnosis, your doctor may ask you to:
- Answer questions about your health history, symptoms, and physical activities.
- Complete a physical exam.
In some cases, your doctor may also order an:
- X-ray, which uses radiation similar to radio waves that can produce pictures of the inside of the human body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging scan, which uses a magnetic field with radio waves to take pictures of the inside of the human body. It can often show problems that other medical imaging techniques may miss.
A health care provider will interview you to help determine a diagnosis. The provider may also want to order other tests to check for any other potential causes of your upper back pain.
Try To Boost Your Mood
No, the lower back pain isnt in your head, but obsessing over it could be making it worse. Fear, anxiety, and catastrophizing can amplify pain, says Dr. Mackey. Because brain circuits that process pain overlap dramatically with circuits involved with emotions, panic can translate into actual pain. Start by accepting that you have pain, Dr. Mackey says. Then say to yourself, it will get better. If you struggle with overall mental wellbeingsay, you have anxiety or depressionin addition to your physical aches, it could be worth seeing a therapist to manage negative thought processes while exploring other lower back pain treatments.
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Why Does My Back Hurt
There are various causes of back pain, including muscle pain with or without muscles spasms, disc pain, joint pain, or nerve pain. In most cases, these are not harmful or dangerous.
Muscle pain is the most common acute back pain. The period of acute pain is usually limited and may be treated at home or by primary care doctors. Sometimes, these patients may be referred to doctors who specialize in back pain. Some back pain can be a symptom of a more serious problem, like a fracture, infection, or cancer in the spine, said H. Michael Guo, MD, a Duke physiatrist who specializes in spine care. These patients should be seen by spine doctors. Fortunately, spine infections and cancer are very rare and usually only affect people with special risk factors. Spine fractures are also rare and may be associated with thinned spine bones or injuries.
Why Experts Recommend It
Tylenol is a good alternative for those who have any underlying conditions in which a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug would not be appropriate. It is an effective pain reliever with fewer side effects than NSAIDS.
There are also stronger formulations, such as extra-strength Tylenol specifically designed for arthritis relief. The high-dose form has a greater risk of side effects and serious complications.
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How Is Back Pain Treated
Acute back pain usually gets better on its own. Acute back pain is usually treated with:
- Medications designed to relieve pain and/or inflammation
- analgesics such as acetaminophen and aspirin
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may be sold over the counter some NSAIDS are prescribed by a physician
- muscle relaxants are prescription drugs that are used on a short-term basis to relax tight muscles
- topical pain relief such as creams, gels, patches, or sprays applied to the skin stimulate the nerves in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold in order to dull the sensation of pain. Common topical medications include capsaicin and lidocaine.
Exercising, bed rest, and surgery are typically not recommended for acute back pain.Chronic back pain is most often treated with a stepped care approach, moving from simple low-cost treatments to more aggressive approaches. Specific treatments may depend on the identified cause of the back pain.
What Research Is Being Done
The mission of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke is to seek fundamental knowledge of the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease. NINDS is a component of the National Institutes of Health , the leading supporter of biomedical research in the world.
As a primary supporter of research on pain and pain mechanisms, NINDS is a member of the NIH Pain Consortium, which was established to promote collaboration among the many NIH Institutes and Centers with research programs and activities addressing pain. On an even broader scale, NIH participates in the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee, a federal advisory committee that coordinates research across other U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies as well as the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
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When Should I See A Doctor For Back Pain
When your back first starts to hurt, try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever and applying ice in the first 48 hours. You may apply heat after 48 hours. You may need to take it easy for a while, but its best to stay as active as tolerated, and to avoid absolute bed rest, said Dr. Guo.
If your back pain lasts more than two weeks and keeps you from participating in normal, daily activities, see your family doctor. If your pain is severe, you should see a doctor sooner. You should seek urgent medical care if you have:
- Fever associated with back pain
- Back pain after trauma
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Loss of strength in your arms and legs
- Unexplained weight loss associated with back pain
Also, always be more cautious if you have special risk factors for cancer, infection, or fractures that may affect the spine.
Can Lower Back Pain Be A Sign Of Something Serious Like Cancer
Lower back pain can be related to cancer. In fact, it is one of the first symptoms of prostate cancer when it metastasizes and creates lesions. Almost any cancer can spread to the back and some, like sarcoma, can originate in the back. Be cautious, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms besides lower back pain. Talk to your doctor if you have additional symptoms or concerns.
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Treatments For Upper Back Pain
To relieve upper back pain, your doctor will customize your treatment based on your symptoms, risk factors, and medical history.
Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
Physical therapy could include things like helping you improve your posture and the way you hold your body, stretching your muscles, examining your pain tolerance, aerobics, and strengthening your abdomen muscles. These interventions ultimately take strain off of your back muscles and improve pain levels.
Mindfulness and meditation
To manage the emotional side of relieving upper back pain, your doctor may refer you to a mindfulness or meditation specialist. This can help you manage frustration, stress, and depression as you continue down your road of healing.
To relieve upper back pain, your doctor may evaluate your diet. Some foods are irritating to the body, especially foods containing high amounts of sugar or fat. Maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy foods can help strengthen your back and reduce pain.
Some injection-based procedures can help to relieve upper back pain. For instance, your doctor might recommend a nerve block or epidural steroid injection .
Your doctor may prescribe medications like anti-inflammatory drugs or muscle relaxants to help relieve upper back pain. These medications are usually done for the short term or in conjunction with other treatment options.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:
Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.
Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.
Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.
Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.
Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.
Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.
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