Back Pain Treatment Options
Part 1 of 4
Back pain is extremely common in today's society. More than 65 million Americans suffer from back pain every year. In fact back pain is the most common reason why people seek medical care.
Thanks to medical advances and technology there are now numerous treatment options for people who suffer from back pain. But, just as each patient is an individual, not all options are available or appropriate for everyone. If you are a back pain sufferer, talk to your doctor about which treatment options are best for you. You may also take our Chronic Pain Treatments Quiz to test your knowledge about what options may best your help your pain.
The following is a brief discussion about the most commonly used treatments for back pain available today.
Today, patients have a wide variety of medications to choose from to treat their back pain. Some drugs not only relieve pain but also work to reduce inflammation and relax muscle tension and spasm. However, many of these medications, even those available without a prescription, can have serious side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications for back pain.
Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen, Naproxen, and Ketoprofen. Anti-inflammatory medications help reduce swelling and inflammation and promote healing. When taken in low doses, NSAIDs work as mild analgesics. When taken in higher doses and on a regular basis, enough of the drug builds up to have a true anti-inflammatory effect.
COX-2 inhibitors are a new type of NSAID and include celecoxib (brand name Celebrex). These medications, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), allow patients to take higher doses without the accompanying gastrointestinal side effects from conventional NSAIDs.
Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, Anacin-3, Phenaphen, and Valadol, is an analgesic (pain-killer). Analgesic medications are used to treat acute or some forms of chronic pain. They are the most common alternatives to NSAIDs. Acetaminophen can be used alone or in combination with NSAIDs. Liver and kidney damage are potential serious side effects of acetaminophen use.
Opioids, such as morphine and codeine, meperidine (Demerol), or oxycodone-release (Oxycontin), are rarely used and only if pain is severe. Due to their addictive nature, these drugs are not routinely prescribed, as many physicians believe they do more harm than good.
Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), diazepam (Valium), carisoprodol (Soma), and methocarbamol (Robaxin), are often prescribed for severe pain. However, some experts believe that NSAIDs are just as effective.