Through years of experience at my clinic and at home, I have realized that lower back pain can be a very horrifying nightmare. But despite the tremendous nature of discomfort and disability it causes, it is my personal theory that you should not consume medicines at the very onset.
There are certain other alternatives too that might cause you relief from this pain or sciatica, like acupuncture, weight loss, massage or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and even chiropractic treatments. If those pain management techniques fail, then only having medicines can be thought of. Lower back pain medication should be based on the cause of your back pain and also the nature of it.
It is of course a fact that medicine will cause pain relief and in some cases even reduce muscle spasms. But the kind of medicine you will have completely depends on whether you have acute lower back pain or its chronic alternative. Since, the nature of these two back pains are completely different from each other, therefore medicines should be resorted to only after a proper diagnosis of the pain.
How are Acute and Chronic Lower Back Pains Different?
Now, how would you find out whether you are suffering from acute or chronic lower back pain? Yes, it is the job of the doctors, but there is no harm if you too have the knowledge of it. The “Journal of Pain” had published that pain intensity, pain location along with sensory and effective variables are different in cases of acute and chronic back pain. They say that these symptoms can also predict if your acute lower back pain will transform into a chronic one.
The researchers at Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have decided upon the fact that the common difference between these two kinds of pain is their duration; on one hand where acute lower back pain lasts for less than six weeks, the chronic pain lasts for around three months. Moreover, the intensity of pain is significantly higher in the chronic case.
Individuals with the former type of discomfort experience unilateral radiating pain; but pain radiating along multiple lines accompanied by a number of syndromes is experienced by those falling under the second category. Patients with acute or sub-acute low back pain who experience discomfort activated by a movement at any distal body sites have poorer chances of developing the pain into a chronic one than those who suffer from more localized pain.
In order to find the correct medication for lower back pain, one must be aware of the causes behind it. It can be lumber strain, osteoporosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia or any kind of nerve or musculoskeletal disorder causing the pain.
Once you have known the root cause and also whether it is acute or chronic, the following medications can be administered after consulting a physician.
Medication for Acute Lower Back Pain
Medication for acute lower back pain will not completely cure the pain; but will relieve you of it and create chances for other treatments, like physical therapy to work. The medicines prescribed by the doctors in these cases are discussed in the following section:
The most popular choice of both the patients and the doctors is over-the-counter, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxens (Aleve) are the medicines that fall under this category. Assistant professor of the department of orthopedic at the David Geffen School of Medicine that is under the University of California, Jae Jung opines that “These are considered milder analgesics, and would be the first tier of treatment”.
Medicines which are not non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and are used to cure this pain are Tylenol (acetaminophen) and aspirin. Certain other prescription-only NSAIDs are celecoxib (Celebrex), meloxicam (Mobic), diclofenac (Voltaren), and nabumetone (Relafen). Although these are mild relief medications, yet they are not completely devoid of side effects. Gastrointestinal problems, ulcers, and kidney damage may accompany and acetaminophen may cause liver damage.
These anti-inflammatory medications can also be found in the form of topical creams. Despite the fact that they do not affect the whole body, the risk of getting affected by the side effect of these creams is not less. Capsaicin, menthol, camphor, and eucalyptus oil are used to make topical medicines for pain relief.
Sometimes the over-the-top medications fail to relieve you of your uncontrollable lower back pain. It is in these cases that doctors may prescribe you a muscle relaxant. They are sedatives which serve well in the pain and also in case of muscle spasms. The medications include
These muscle relaxants are particularly useful in case of acute back pain. For example, carisoprodol can significantly reduce back pain and improve function after a few days as gathered by the American Academy of Pain Medicine’s 2010 annual meeting. These relaxants however may cause you a little drowsiness.
Like the anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids may also ease up the pain situation and give you freedom from it. They can be incorporated orally or via injection. Their consumption should be done if the NSAIDs and muscle relaxants fail to perform. They might restrict the pain from becoming chronic.
Narcotic pain medicines
These are very powerful medicines that you may partake to if you are suffering from acute, severe back pain. Intake of these medicines should be limited to only 1 or 2 weeks. There are hardly any chances of getting addicted to this drug.
Even though, there is not much proof in support of it, yet they are sometimes used to treat lower back pain.
Medication for Chronic Lower Back Pain
To begin with NSAIDs and muscle relaxants are also given to patients with chronic back pain. But in the absence of their positive effects on your health, you may check out the following options.
These are of particular help if the patient is suffering from chronic back pain after multiple surgeries. In fact, almost 70% individuals with back pain problems reach out for this medication. This drug works on the nerve cells to improve the pain condition and also on the pain receptors in the brain. Most people start with the shorter acting versions Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone) and Tylenol with codeine and may even end up with the stronger version like the morphine. There are, of course, different side effects of using Opioids- drowsiness, constipation or allergic reactions are common amongst them. Lastly, they should not be taken for long; for they may have adverse effects on the pain itself.
These medicines are of primary help in treating pain related depression; they will, however, help in alleviating chronic back pain.
Anesthetic or steroid injections
Prescriptions are being created for these injections nowadays, but researches are still going on in order to find out how well they work for this pain.
This is like a shot into the back muscle; although complete evidences in support of its performance have yet not come to the fore front.
You can also opt for a spinal surgery but they should be only considered if you have nerve damage, or a back pain condition that is not healing after a long period of time.
Narcotic Pain Medicines
Although primarily used by individuals with acute back pain, Narcotic pain medicines can also be taken by chronic back pain patients. Only difference is that the consumption duration will be extended.
Now, that you have an idea about the kind of medicines that you must undertake in lower back pain, let me tell you this that if you think that lower back pain medication alone will suffice, then you are grossly mistaken. Accompany these medications with exercise. These exercises should focus on the legs, backs and joints so that pain relief is attained sooner. After all, you can have a healthy lifestyle only when you are physically fit.