Drugs and Medications Center

Medications may be the “first line” treatment for neck or back pain, leg pain (sciatica) and/or muscle spasms. In our Drugs and Medications Center, learn about over-the-counter medications (OTCs) and prescription medications that may help you manage your pain and other spinal symptoms. Keep in mind that medication is often combined with other therapies such as physical therapy.
Doctor writing prescription selective focus Always tell your doctor about all your current medications. Why? Doing so may help prevent a potentially harmful drug interaction. It is also important to tell your doctor about vitamins, herbal remedies and dietary supplements you take, as some may cause or contribute to a serious interaction with medications.

Over-the-counter Medications
Over-the-counter medications can help reduce pain that may be caused by whiplash or a lower back sprain or strain. Analgesic drugs containing acetaminophen, of which Tylenol is an example, may help relieve acute pain symptoms. However, these drugs will not help reduce inflammation.

For relief of both pain and inflammation, you may consider taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), of which ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve) and aspirin (Ecotrin) are examples. Perhaps your doctor has first recommended an OTC-strength NSAID or analgesic before progressing to a prescription-strength medication—which may be prescribed if pain does not improve or worsens.

Prescription NSAID Medications
The doctor may recommend a prescription NSAID medication to help you manage your neck, back, and/or leg pain, particularly if pain is chronic. These medications include:

  • Anaprox (naproxen)
  • Celebrex (celecoxib)
  • Daypro (oxaprozin)
  • Feldene (prioxicam)
  • Indocin (indomethacin)
  • Mobic (meloxicam)
  • Naprosyn (naproxen)
  • Vimovo (naproxen/esomeprazole)
  • Volataren-XR (diclofenac)

Prescription Pain Medication
A narcotic pain medication, either alone or with an existing drug (eg, muscle relaxant), may be prescribed to help manage acute pain (severe, short-term pain), episodic or chronic pain. Narcotics, sometimes called opioids or Schedule II drugs, are potent drugs with addiction potential. These types of drugs include:

  • Duragesic (fentanyl skin patch)
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Demerol (meperidine)
  • MS Contin (morphine)
  • OxyContin (oxycodone)
  • Ultram (tramadol)

Medications to Treat Muscle Spasms
If you suffer with muscle spasms, or are dealing with a recent spinal strain or sprain, your doctor may recommend and prescribe a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants can help provide pain relief and may improve the quality of your sleep. Examples of muscle relaxant medications include:

  • Flexeril (Cyclobenzaprine)
  • Robaxin (Methocarbamol)
  • Skelaxin (Metaxalone)

Antidepressant Medications
It is not unusual for people who live with chronic neck or back pain (or other types of pain) to have depression. Pain caused by a spine condition can cause changes to a person’s quality of life. No two people (patients) are the same and how one person copes is different from how someone else deals with pain. Listed below are different types of antidepressant medication.

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs): Elavil (amitriptyline), Anafranil (clomipramine), Norpramin (desipramine), Tofranil (imipramine), Pamelor (nortriptyline)
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors: Prozac (fluoxetine), Celexa (citalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), Lexapro (escitalopram), Luvox CR (fluvoxamine), Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors: Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)
  • Wellbutrin (bupropion) is a type of atypical antidepressant.
Updated on: 09/13/16
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