Back pain medications

There are many different medications that can be used to treat back pain. The first medications that we will discuss today are the over the counter medications which include Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, and Aleve. Tylenol or Acetaminophen is one of the most common over the counter pain relievers and is used for all types of pain and for fevers. It works by affecting the area of the brain that perceives pain. It blocks that area which in turn keeps a person from feeling the pain. Advil, Motrin, and Aleve are all NSAID’s. (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These types of drugs work to reduce pain by removing or relieving inflammation in an area of the body. Aspirin works on the same general premise.

These types of drugs are given for mild to moderate acute back pain. They are given on a short term basis and as far as Tylenol goes have no real side effects as long as it is taken as directed. The aspirin and NSAID’s can have side effects which include some nausea and vomiting and gastrointestinal upset. Aspirin has been known to cause increased bleeding times and is contraindicated in anyone who is on blood thinners such as Coumadin or Heparin.

Muscle relaxants can be prescribed for back pain that is related to muscle stress or strain. Certain muscle relaxants like Flexeril can be given for the short or long term without problems. It is used frequently for people with back pain due to this. It can impair some motor functions and should be taken with caution prior to driving or using machinery until a person sees how it affects them. Other muscle relaxants such as Soma should only be given on a short term basis as they can be habit forming. Soma can react badly with alcohol and other drugs so it should not be taken with those. Valium is another drug that is used as a muscle relaxant for people with back pain. Valium is a very powerful medication and it is extremely habit forming. It should only be used for the very short term as it can affect sleep habits for some time after someone has stopped taking it. Valium can make depression worse as well so it should not be taken by anyone that has chronic depression.

Oral steroids are another non narcotic alternative that physicians use for people with back pain. Steroids are used to reduce inflammation. Steroids can provide a very significant, extremely powerful and very effective treatment for people with back pain. Steroids are designed to be used only for the short term and are usually used in decreasing dosages as there can be many side effects associated with long term or chronic steroid use. These side effects can include rapid weight gain, gastric ulcers, collapse of the hip joint, and osteoporosis. Steroids should not be used by diabetics as they can make blood sugars fluctuate wildly or anyone who has an active ongoing infection as the steroids can make the infection worse.

Narcotic pain medication is designed for people who have moderate to severe back pain that lasts more than a few days. Narcotics work in the respect that they help the patient disassociate away from the pain. They do not actually get rid of the pain but allow the person to tolerate the pain in a better manner. Narcotics are very strong and are very habit forming. They are prescribed by a physician and anyone using these medications should be closely followed by a medical professional. They can also interact with other medications and alcohol as well as affect a person’s ability to function.

A thorough history and physical and evaluation should be done by a competent physician before any medications should be prescribed for back pain. A consultation should be done and your physician should explain what medications they are prescribing as well as the treatment plan they have for you and their expectations for your recovery.

Last updated on Aug 4th, 2009 and filed under Drugs and Medications. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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