Taking Elavil For Chronic Back Pain
Elavil is a medication with several uses. It has long been used for the treatment of depression but is sometimes given as an adjuvant pain medication to people with chronic back pain. A tricyclic antidepressant, amitryptyline is very effective for pain, but it does come with some side effects and drug interactions.
What Can Cause Lower Back Pain
Most acute low back pain is mechanical in nature, meaning that there is a disruption in the way the components of the back fit together and move. Some examples of mechanical causes of low back pain include:
- Skeletal irregularities such as scoliosis , lordosis , kyphosis , and other congenital anomalies of the spine.
- Spina bifida which involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering and can cause problems involving malformation of vertebrae and abnormal sensations and even paralysis.
- Sprains , strains , and spasms
- Traumatic Injury such as from playing sports, car accidents, or a fall that can injure tendons, ligaments, or muscle causing the pain, as well as compress the spine and cause discs to rupture or herniate.
- Intervertebral disc degeneration which occurs when the usually rubbery discs wear down as a normal process of aging and lose their cushioning ability.
- Spondylosis the general degeneration of the spine associated with normal wear and tear that occurs in the joints, discs, and bones of the spine as people get older.
- Arthritis or other inflammatory disease in the spine, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as spondylitis, an inflammation of the vertebrae.
Nerve and spinal cord problems
What Is Serotonin Syndrome
Since SNRIs have a serotonin component, they are referred to serotonergic drugs. Serotonergic drugs may cause serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition which results when too much serotonin builds up in your body.
Symptoms of serotonin syndrome may range from mild to severe . Serotonin syndrome may be life-threatening if left untreated.
It can occur if two serotonergic agents are used together or if one serotonergic agent is taken excessively. To avoid overlap of serotonergic agents be sure your doctor is aware of all the medications you are taking.
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What Will This Summary Tell Me
This summary will answer these questions:
- What is low back pain?
- How is low back pain treated?
- Nonmedicine treatments such as heat, exercise, and massage
* Your health care professional may include your primary care doctor, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, bone specialist , nerve specialist , a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist , physical therapist, or other therapist.
Tricyclic Antidepressants For Neuropathic Pain
TCAs are the most studied antidepressants for the treatment of neuropathic pain as they have been around for a long time. Their pain-relieving properties were noted in research from the 1960s.
Similar to SNRIs, TCAs work by regulating norepinephrine, which mediates the analgesic effect. TCAs used for pain are amitriptyline, nortriptyline , doxepin , imipramine , Desipramine and clomipramine .
Side effects may include dry mouth, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, sweating and constipation. Due to the side effects, TCAs are less commonly used in the elderly population. If your doctor recommends TCAs for your pain, he will likely start with a low dose and gradually increase it until an effective dose is achieved. TCAs are also inexpensive which is a plus for low-income people or those without insurance.
The dose used for neuropathic pain treatment is lower than the dose used for depression treatment. Higher doses are not effective for pain treatment and are associated with more side effects.
Both TCAs and SNRIs are great options in patients who are suffering from depression or anxiety along with pain. However, they are still considered great options even if depression or anxiety are not present. It is important to note that antidepressants are associated with increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Talk to your doctor or counselor immediately if you feel depressed or suicidal.
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Cut Your Risk Of Back Pain Right From The Start
As with any health condition or disease, preventing back pain is better than trying to cure it after it has set in, and may be too late. So even if youre not experiencing back pain symptoms, I would recommend you follow these simple tips:
How To Use Integrative Therapies And Healing Practices In Back Pain
Many people who suffer from back pain experience either chronic, persistent pain, or chronic pain with occasional episodes of acute pain. Because long term use of oral medications is not optimally effective and has risks of side-effects and dependence, you should consider alternative strategies.
To help reduce acute aggravations and avoid additional pain, it is important to have a maintenance/prevention plan. This should include a regular exercise program with stretching, strength training, and endurance and aerobic activities. Yoga is a good base activity for many people.
Maintaining a healthy weight is an important practice for preventing and maintaining back pain since it decreases the stress on your muscles.
With these behaviors and relationships as a foundation, you should be well positioned to respond to an aggravation or acute flare, should that occur.
How To Explain Your Pain
Now that you know the difference between acute and chronic pain, lets drill down a bit more. The cause of your pain will for the most part determine the type of pain you are experiencing. Describing your symptoms accurately is important because it helps your healthcare provider choose the best treatment for your pain.
Nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain are the two most common types of pain.
Medicines For Back Pain
Acute back pain often goes away on its own over several weeks. In some people, back pain persists. It may not go away completely or it may get more painful at times.
Medicines can also help with your back pain.
OVER-THE-COUNTER PAIN RELIEVERS
Over-the-counter means you can buy them without a prescription.
Most health care providers recommend acetaminophen first because it has fewer side effects than other drugs. Do not take more than 3 grams on any one day, or over 24 hours. Overdosing on acetaminophen can cause severe damage to your liver. If you already have liver disease, ask your doctor if acetaminophen is OK for you to take.
If your pain continues, your provider may suggest nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs . You can buy some NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, without a prescription. NSAIDs help reduce the swelling around the swollen disk or arthritis in the back.
NSAIDs and acetaminophen in high doses, or if taken for a long time, can cause serious side effects. Side effects include stomach pain, ulcers or bleeding, and kidney or liver damage. If side effects occur, stop taking the drug right away and tell your provider.
If you are taking pain relievers for more than a week, tell your provider. You may need to be watched for side effects.
NARCOTIC PAIN RELIEVERS
Examples of narcotics include:
- Fentanyl — available as a patch
Possible side effects of these drugs include:
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Commonly Prescribed Drug For Lower Back Pain Not Effective
- Commonly Prescribed Drug for Lower Back Pain Not Effective
A new study out today in the journal Neurology shows that pregabalin is not effective in controlling the pain associated with lumbar spinal stenosis, the most common type of chronic lower back pain in older adults.
Chronic low back pain is one of the most common reasons why older adults go to the doctor and lumbar stenosis is the leading indication for surgery in this age group, said John Markman, M.D., director of the Translational Pain Research Program in the University of Rochester Department of Neurosurgery and lead author of the study. While physicians have increasingly looked for medication alternatives to opioid pain medication like gabapentin and pregabalin to help these patients manage their pain, until now there has been no credible evidence as to whether or not these treatments are effective for this problem.
Pregabalin, which is marketed by Pfizer under the name Lyrica, is approved to treat chronic pain associated with shingles, spinal cord injury, fibromyalgia, and diabetic peripheral neuropathy. However, it is also commonly prescribed as an off label treatment for chronic low back pain syndromes like lumbar spinal stenosis.
The Best Muscle Relaxants For Back Pain
Muscle relaxants should only be used if NSAIDs are not enough for your back pain.
You should only take a muscle relaxant for about one to two weeks since they have side effects and have not been studied for long-term use.
Also do not take muscle relaxants with alcohol, opioid pain medications, or anti-anxiety drugs that make you sleepy . Combining these drugs with muscle relaxants can make your breathing more difficult.
The best muscle relaxant for back pain is Cyclobenzaprine since it has the most evidence. It does cause sleepiness, however, so do not use it while working, driving, or if you are at risk of falls .
A close second is Methocarbamol , which I have personally used, since this drug does not cause sleepiness. It may be more expensive though.
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When Should I Call The Doctor
You should call your healthcare provider if you are taking pain medicine and experience:
- Vision problems, including blurred vision or drooping eyelids.
- Numbness or paralysis in an untreated area.
- Severe stomach upset.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Pain relievers can bring a welcome break from aches and discomforts. You can find acetaminophen and anti-inflammatory drugs in a lot of OTC products. These include medicines for allergies, colds and flu. Its important to read the labels to make sure you dont get too much of a pain medication. Many nonaddictive pain medicines are available for chronic pain. Your healthcare provider can work with you to find the right medicine to help you enjoy better, pain-free days.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/13/2021.
A Move Away From Oral Painkillers
People with back pain are usually told by their health care practitioners to take analgesic medications to relieve their pain.
Out of date Australian guidelines for managing back pain recommend paracetamol as first choice analgesic, NSAIDs as second, and oral opioids as the third line medicines. Paracetamol is still the most purchased over-the-counter painkiller in Australia, but weve shown it to be ineffective for back pain.
The UK 2017 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines now no longer recommend paracetamol as a stand-alone intervention for back pain. In the UK, NSAIDs are recommended as the analgesic of first choice for back pain, and opioids as second.
However in research published last week, we show NSAIDs like ibuprofen and diclofenac offer only marginal relief from back pain compared to a placebo . Only one in six patients treated with NSAIDs achieved any significant reduction in pain.
We also found people taking NSAIDs are more than twice as likely to experience vomiting, nausea, stomach ulcers or bleeding compared to those taking placebo.
The study raises the question of whether the benefits of NSAIDs outweigh the risk of side effects offered by these drugs.
These results were obtained by reviewing 35 studies of 6,065 people with various types of spinal pain, including lower back pain, neck pain and sciatica .
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Managing Chronic Lower Back Pain
As with many conditions, the best treatment is prevention. Lift heavy objects correctly or with the help of a second person. Add more movement to your day by getting up from your desk to move around every 60 to 90 minutes, or adopt a regular exercise routine. Do not go overboard with activity at first take some time to build up strength and flexibility.
For someone dealing with chronic lower back pain, several treatment options are available. The first is short-term management of pain with OTC pain relievers such as acetaminophen , ibuprofen , and naproxen . For chronic back pain, a physician might prescribe medications such as muscle relaxants, opioids or narcotics, and steroid injections to manage pain. Exercise extreme caution with prescription pain relief because of the increased risk of dependency and addiction. If patients experience pain that interferes with daily activities and work, they may be candidates for surgery as a last resort.
Many people have prevented and managed back pain with a combination of physical conditioning and manipulation. Chiropractors and physical therapists can help improve lower back function and reduce pain. Stretching, yoga, and core strengthening exercises can build strength and flexibility in the spine, further improving function and preventing additional damage.
How To Treat Back Pain Without Dangerous Drugs
Back pain is a common health issue today that affects at least eight out of 10 people. It is a prevalent problem among Americans. In fact, statistics from the American Chiropractic Association reveal that at least 31 million Americans experiencelower back pain at any given time.
The ACA report also says that:
- One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year.
- Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, it is the second most common reason for visits to the doctors office .
- As many as 75 to 85 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. In most cases, this pain is mechanical in nature it is NOT caused by a serious medical condition, such as inflammatory arthritis or fracture.
Chronic back pain has become such a debilitating problem and its costly, too. According to the ACA, Americans spend at least 50 billion dollars each year on back painand thats just for the more easily identified costs!
I cannot stress enough that preventing or treating disease is possible without the intervention of medications. The same is true for back pain. You only need to address the root cause of the problem by changing your lifestyle and the way you eat and move.
Below is a discussion of the potential causes of back pain, my recommendations for back pain treatment, and how you can alleviate this problem without putting any additional burden on your health.
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What Are The Types Of Over
Common OTC pain medications include:
- Acetaminophen: This drug dulls pain receptors in the brain. As a result, you feel less pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs :NSAIDs lower the production of prostaglandins. These hormone-like chemicals irritate nerve endings, causing inflammation and pain. NSAIDs include aspirin compounds , ibuprofen and naproxen sodium .
- Combination: Some pain relievers contain both acetaminophen and aspirin . Certain OTC headache medicines also have caffeine.
- Topical: You apply this pain medication directly to your skin. It comes as a cream, gel, spray or patch. Topical medicines block pain receptors in the brain. They may contain aspirin, lidocaine, capsaicin pepper or other medication. Some topical treatments make the skin feel warmer or cooler. Common brands are Aspercreme® and Ben-Gay®.
Is Your Job Creating Back Discomfort
A task that entails drawing, training, or twisting with the low back can create injury in addition to low neck and back pain. Also long term sitting in an awkward setting can produce low back pain.
Standing on your feet for humans resources on end? That can cause lower back discomfort also. If you go to hazard, the best methods to stop back soreness is to acknowledge.
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Other Treatments And Activities That Dont Help
Other treatment options including acupuncture, ultrasound, electrical nerve simulation, and corsets or foot orthotics are not recommended, since there is no strong evidence supporting their use.
Even if the cause of back pain is unknown, imaging is unlikely to influence management or provide meaningful information.