Back pain is a problem that unfortunately approximately one in four Americans have experienced. It is not only one of the most common causes of pain, but is also actually among the most popular causes of disability in people aged under 45.

Medicating Back Pain

Back pain is simply not something that can be healed completely by medication, although this treatment route can help to manage the pain. Medication can also be of some assistance when physical therapy has been prescribed.

If your doctor is going to prescribe you medication for your back pain then the type of medication will depend largely on the severity of your symptoms.

Anti-Inflammatory Medication

When you first start to experience back pain it is likely that anti-inflammatory medication will be the first medication your doctor suggests. In fact, you can even buy this kind of medication over the counter yourself. Ibuprofen and Naproxen are popular choices and won’t generally cause any serious side effects if only taken for a short period.

There are some more heavy duty anti-inflammatory medications, such as Diclofenac, Meloxicam and Celecoxib that are only available on prescription. High doses of these medications over an extended period of time can lead to gastrointestinal issues, as well as liver and kidney damage.

If you find that you are having to rely on anti-inflammatory medication for back pain for more than three months, then you are technically suffering with chronic pain.

Muscle Relaxants

When anti-inflammatory medications aren’t enough to soothe your back pain, the next step is to investigate how muscle relaxants can help. This is something that your doctor is very likely to suggest, and will probably be offered in addition to pain medication.

Common muscle relaxant medications include Flexeril, Lioresal and Soma. They will serve to relieve any muscle spasms that could be contributing to your back pain. If your back pain is the result of an injury then this kind of medication can be particularly useful. Even just a few days of this kind of treatment can go a long way to helping with overall pain levels.

Drowsiness is a common side effect of this kind of medication and it is not advisable to drive whilst you are taking muscle relaxants.

Opioids

When back pain becomes chronic pain, and continues to persist, the next logical treatment option after muscle relaxants is likely to be opioids. Statistics have shown that up to 70% of people living with back pain will have been prescribed opioid medication at some point.

Vicodin, Tramadol and Morphine are among the most commonly prescribed opioid medications.

The risk of dependency is the most concerning side effect of taking this kind of medication, although drowsiness, constipation and persistent itching are also likely to happen. Although the risk of dependency makes prescribing these drugs somewhat concerning, they are often the only way that patients can manage their pain. If your level of pain has reached this point, then trying to function without the assistance of opioids might be problematic.

There is also evidence to suggest that using opioids for an extended period of time can actually alter the way in which the nervous system functions, leading to increased pain perception.

Additional Medication Options

There is strong evidence to suggest that certain anti-seizure medications and antidepressant medications can be beneficial for back pain. This is especially the case if your back pain is caused by some kind of issue with your nervous system. Certain medications within this category will work to alleviate nerve irritation and tackle the symptoms of this kind of pain.

It should be taken into consideration that these kinds of medication come with their own set of side effects, such as constipation, insomnia, headaches, nausea and fatigue. Changes to the mood are also common and should be monitored closely.

Living With Back Pain

It is important to remember that back pain is not always a permanent problem, and your symptoms may get better with the right treatment. Establishing what the cause of your back pain is will be the first step to finding an effective route of treatment.

When you are living with back pain you will probably want to take things easy, so as not to aggravate your pain. However, challenging yourself to get out and do things can actually help, both physically and mentally. It is important to keep your body strong and active, and challenging yourself physically will also help to boost feelings of satisfaction and fulfilment. Keeping a positive mindset can go a long way to helping you to deal with your back pain and to live a better quality of life. 

Treating Back Pain Without Medication

You may be surprised to hear that you can alleviate some of the symptoms of back pain without medication. For example, utilising certain breathing techniques can help to bring about some relief. When you are experiencing chronic pain it is natural for your body to become tense, and this can exacerbate the initial problem! Deep breathing practices can help to combat this tension, and you may also try meditation for the same reason.

Certain activities, such as yoga and other forms of light exercise, can also help to alleviate the problems associated with back pain. It is a great idea to use exercise to help to future-proof your body! Remaining as fit and healthy as possible will go a long way to keeping adverse health conditions at bay, and can also help to protect you - to some degree- against injuries.

Resources

1) http://www.webmd.com/drugs

2) http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/condition-15/pain/chronic-back-pain