Related Resources For Lower Back Pain
* Prescription savings vary by prescription and by pharmacy, and may reach up to 80% off cash price.
Pharmacy names, logos, brands, and other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
When You May Need Medicine
If non-drug interventions dont help, the ACP recommends first trying non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin or meloxicam. While NSAIDs provide some pain relief, they may put you at risk for GI bleeding or kidney damage.
As second-line drugs, the ACP recommends duloxetine or tramadol .
Due to their serious side effects and addictive nature, opioid medications should be used only as a last resort when patients fail all other therapies, the ACP advises. The rule of thumb: Use the lowest possible dose of opioid for the least amount of time.
If youve been suffering with long-term low back pain, its worth exploring these non-drug treatment options before resorting to pills. Youre likely to find your quality of life improving.
Common Medications Can Prolong Back Pain Study Says
A clinical trial will be needed to verify the research, which offered a warning about taking steroids or nonprescription drugs to soothe aches that many experience.
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
Give this article
- Read in app
By Gina Kolata
The very treatments often used to soothe pain in the lower back, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is the most common type of pain, might cause it to last longer, according to a new study.
Managing pain with steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen, can actually turn a wrenched back into a chronic condition, the study found.
Some medical experts urged caution in interpreting the results too broadly. The study did not use the gold standard for medical research, which would be a clinical trial in which people with back pain would be randomly assigned to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug or a placebo and followed to see who developed chronic pain. Instead, it involved observations of patients, an animal study and an analysis of patients in a large database.
Its intriguing but requires further study, said Dr. Steven J. Atlas, director of primary care practice-based research and quality improvement at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Thomas Buchheit, director of the regenerative pain therapies program at Duke, had a different view.
It was a huge difference, she added.
Read Also: Aleve Or Ibuprofen For Back Pain
How Can I Relieve Back Pain At Home
You can manage back pain at home with over-the-counter medications, natural remedies, or very light exercise techniques. Medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, or aspirin can alleviate pain. Natural remedies like turmeric or ice can reduce inflammation. Or, you can try stretching, walking, or other light exercise. However, you should consult a doctor before starting new physical activity to avoid injuring yourself further.
What Medications Are Out There For Back Pain
First things first: Medication isnt remotely the only treatment for back pain. In fact, most cases of back pain resolve by themselves in a matter of weeks. But for those cases that dont, theres a wealth of options both surgical and nonsurgical. Exercise and physical therapy, epidural steroid injections, decompression surgeries and, yes, medications: All are potentially on the table, depending on whats causing your back pain.
When it comes to back pain medication, there are several classes of drugs that treat pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly called NSAIDs, are often the first line of defense. NSAIDs are available over the counter or by prescription. There are also antispasmodics, drugs that specifically treat muscle spasms often accompany back and spine injuries.
Sheri Dewan, MD, a neurosurgeon at Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group in Winfield, IL, explains further. Theres any number of pain medications which include non-steroidal anti-inflammatoriesso that would be like your Aleve, aspirin, Motrin. Then there are other medications that are narcotic medications, [such as Norco or Tylenol Number Three, which is with codeine And then theres your anti-spasm medications which are things like Flexeril and Valium. And so we use essentially three classes of medications to treat back pain.
Read Also: Is Motrin Good For Back Pain
How Is Low Back Pain Diagnosed
A complete medical history and physical exam can usually identify any serious conditions that may be causing the pain. Neurologic tests can help determine the cause of pain and appropriate treatment. Imaging tests are not needed in most cases but may be ordered to rule out specific causes of pain, including tumors and spinal stenosis. Occasionally the cause of chronic lower back pain is difficult to determine even after a thorough examination.
Blood tests are not routinely used to diagnose the cause of back pain but might be ordered to look for signs of inflammation, infection, cancer, and/or arthritis.
Bone scans can detect and monitor an infection, fracture, or bone disorder. A small amount of radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream and collects in the bones, particularly in areas with some abnormality. Scanner-generated images can identify specific areas of irregular bone metabolism or abnormal blood flow, as well as to measure levels of joint disease.
Discography involves injecting a contrast dye into a spinal disc thought to be causing low back pain. The fluids pressure in the disc will reproduce the persons symptoms if the disc is the cause. The dye helps to show the damaged areas on CT scans taken following the injection.
Electrodiagnostics can identify problems related to the nerves in the back and legs. The procedures include:
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.
Recommended Reading: Will Naproxen Help Back Pain
What Structures Make Up The Back
The lower backwhere most back pain occursincludes the five vertebrae in the lumbar region, which supports much of the weight of the upper body. The spaces between the vertebrae are maintained by round, rubbery pads called intervertebral discs that act like shock absorbers throughout the spinal column to cushion the bones as the body moves. Bands of tissue known as ligaments hold the vertebrae in place, and tendons attach the muscles to the spinal column. Thirty-one pairs of nerves are rooted to the spinal cord and they control body movements and transmit signals from the body to the brain.
Other regions of vertebrate are cervical , thoracic , and sacral and coccygeal segments.
Six Tips For Treating Chronic Pain
1. Understand it.For those who experience it in chronic form, pain is its own disease, not just a symptom. Scientists now say it might be caused by specialized nerve cells going haywire.
2. Exercise helps.If you have chronic pain, you can still exercise. And, in many cases, it might just help you reduce feelings of discomfort and raise your pain threshold.
3. Control pain from the source.Although chronic pain is a disease, you have a great deal of power over it and can tap into your mind to start finding relief. One thing that may help? Keeping a diary to vent your feelings.
Don’t Miss: Is Aleve Good For Back Pain
Who Gets Back Pain
Anyone can have back pain. You may be more likely to have back pain because of the following:
- Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are out of shape. You may also get back pain if you exercise too hard after not being active for a while.
- Obesity: If you are overweight or obese, it can put stress on the back and cause pain.
- Job-related risk factors: Jobs that require heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or twisting can injure the back. A desk job may also play a role, especially if you slouch or sit all day in an uncomfortable chair.
- Age: You may have more back pain as you get older, particularly after you turn 45.
- Family history: Your genes play a role in some disorders that cause back pain.
Which Medications Are Best For Acute Low Back Pain
How do you know which medication is best to treat your neck or low back pain? That is a joint decision to be made with your doctor. He or she can prescribe a medication, but if it has side effects you’re uncomfortable with, don’t be afraid to speak up.
If the medication isn’t relieving your acute low back pain, you need to tell your doctor. You may need a different dosage, try another medication, or a combination of two drugs.
How to Choose a Medication for Acute Lower Back PainThere are various agents that can be helpful in addressing the painful phase of acute low back problems. The particular medication should be chosen after consideration of the following:
goals of treatment, ie, analgesia , reduction of inflammation, reduction of muscle spasm
the scientific and clinical evidence of the medication’s effectiveness.
These are the details your doctor will take into consideration when prescribing a medication for you.
Medications Reviewed in This Acute Low Back Pain Treatments Series
With the proper selection of pain medication and a positive response, you can then start more active rehabilitation and avoid the development of a more chronic low back condition.
Don’t Miss: How Much Advil Can I Take For Back Pain
Precautions When Taking Nsaids
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can increase the chance of serious gastrointestinal complications such as ulcers, bleeding, inflammation, and perforations. People who take NSAIDs such as naproxen and ibuprofen, may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or stroke than people who do not take these medications. People with kidney disease, or those who have had coronary artery bypass graft surgery, should not take NSAIDS.
When To See A Doctor
People who take medicine for chronic pain should have regular check-ups with their doctor. Contact your doctor right away if you have severe or abnormal side effects. This includes if you have an unplanned reaction. The doctor will tell you what you should do. Seek help if you think you are dependent on or addicted to a drug.
Read Also: Advil Good For 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.
Remedies Less Likely To Help
Cleveland Clinic spine specialists generally do not support the use of passive treatments for low back pain.
Chronic use of low-level laser therapy, ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and spinal manipulation may only help in the short term, Dr. Mayer points out. We dont want you to waste your money on treatments unlikely to provide more than a day of benefit.
Read Also: Will Aleve Help With Back Pain
Breast Cancer Medications: Anastrozole Exemestane Letrozole
Anastrozole , exemestane , and letrozole are medications used in the treatment of breast cancer. They belong to a group of medications known as aromatase inhibitors that block the body from making estrogen hormones. People usually take these medications for several years after initial treatment to prevent breast cancer from returning. Some studies have found that as many as 47% of people taking one of these medications may experience joint pain.
How Do You Get Rid Of Back Pain Fast
The quickest way to get rid of back pain is with over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs, like as ibuprofen and aspirin. If your back pain is due to a new injury or inflammation you can apply light pressure with ice to the area until you are able to seek medical attention. This will reduce the swelling and pain until further treatment is available.
Also Check: Aleve Or Advil For Lower Back Pain
The Problem With Painkillers
Doctors recommend a few different medicines to treat back pain. Some of them — like NSAIDs and topical pain relievers that you rub on your skin — aren’t addictive. Others, especially opioids, can become habit forming.
Opioid addiction has been a growing problem since the 1990s, when drug companies assured doctors these pain relievers weren’t addictive. As a result, doctors began to prescribe opioids for their patients with chronic pain more and more.
Today, opioid addiction is such a serious problem that health officials call it an epidemic. Find out what happens when prescription drug addiction goes untreated.
Still, doctors continue to prescribe these drugs. Nearly 2 million Americans, aged 12 or older, either abused or were dependent on prescription opioids in 2014.
Addiction isn’t the only risk tied to opioid use. People who regularly take these drugs are also more likely to develop these health problems:
- Heart attack
- Injury from a motor vehicle accident
- Sleep apnea
- More likely to fall and break a bone
What Are The Symptoms Of Low Back Pain
Low back pain is classified as acute and chronic. Acute low back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute low back pain will resolve on its own. Chronic low back pain lasts for more than 3 months and often gets worse. The cause of chronic low back pain can be hard to find. These are the most common symptoms of low back pain. Symptoms may include discomfort or pain in the lower back that is:
- Protruding or herniated disk
Read Also: Will Aleve Help Back Pain
Questions For Your Doctor
- What are my options to treat chronic pain?
- What medicine do I need to take?
- How long do I need to take them?
- How much and how often do I take the medicine?
- Do I need to take the medicine with anything or avoid things when I take the medicine?
- What are the possible side effects? What should I do if I have them?
- How do I safely start and stop chronic pain medicines?
- Are there alternative forms of treatment, besides medicine, that can treat chronic pain?
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
Recommended Reading: Is Aleve Good For Lower Back Pain
What Are The Best Home Remedies For Lower Back Pain
Depending on the severity and cause, you may be able to reduce or eliminate your lower back pain at home. Many of these remedies are short-term solutions, but can help you avoid medications while you wait for your next doctors appointment. After consulting a healthcare professional, you may be able to rely on these solutions entirely for minor pain.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider About Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest and pain relievers. Back pain that doesnt go away may be a sign of a more serious condition.
See your provider if you have:
- Pain that doesnt get better after about a week of at-home care.
- Tingling, numbness, weakness or pain in your buttocks or legs.
- Severe pain or muscle spasms that interfere with your normal activities.
- Fever, weight loss, bowel or bladder problems or other unexplained symptoms.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people live with low back pain. Stiffness, pain and limited movement can have a major impact on quality of life. But you may be able to avoid lower back pain by maintaining a healthy weight and staying active. Talk to your provider if back pain doesnt go away or if youre unable to do the activities you enjoy. Several treatments can relieve pain, help you move better and get more out of life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/18/2021.
Recommended Reading: Advil For Lower Back Pain
What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.
Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:
- Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
- Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
- Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
- Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.