Back pain can be a long-lasting, even life-altering condition that has varying levels of severity, and dealing with it can be a nightmare.
A doctor will often prescribe medication to help you deal with pain, while other more long-term solutions are considered and carried out, such as therapy or a minimally invasive procedure. For severe pain, sometimes the drugs prescribed are powerful, and can lead to addiction. Those suffering from back pain need to be aware of the many types of medication available for back pain, in order to safely use that medicine for its intended purpose. No medication or herbal supplement is absolutely safe and without risk.
Over the counter, multiple medications are available that are generally safe for pain relief. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a cheap way to reduce pain levels with little risk when used appropriately. Routine monitoring with annual liver tests can tell you if you have a higher risk with this medication. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are another reasonable option available over-the-counter. The most common NSAID is ibuprofen. Research shows that there may be a connection between NSAIDs and stomach ulcers when dosages become larger. COX-2 (Celebrex) is another common NSAID.
Opioids are a powerful pain killer prescribed for chronic back pain. In fact, opioids are among the most commonly prescribed medications in America. And according to the New York Times, the number of prescriptions for the strongest opioids has increased fourfold in the last ten years.
Common opioids include hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone and oxycodone. Often these drugs are abused, and patients can become addicted. In other cases, patients simply take these powerful medications too often, harming their bodies. In 2008, more than 14,000 people died from prescription pain killer overdose, the New York Times reports.
Muscle relaxants are another variety of drug given for back pain. Fatigue is often associated with these drugs, according to the American Chronic Pain Association.
Antidepressants have shown some success in helping people deal with back pain. Herbal remedies are used by some who prefer a more natural approach.
The Purpose of Pain Killers
Probably the most important principle to remember about pain killers is that they are not meant to be a long-term solution. Often, taking pain killers for a short amount of time is not harmful, and those who experience the most negative consequences are people who’ve taken powerful painkillers for an extended amount of time.
Those suffering from back pain should always be seeking a permanent solution, rather than simply relying on pain killers to cover up pain.
For those with muscle damage in the back, physical therapy and massage may be effective remedies. The first step in successfully overcoming your back issues is to get an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
For those with spinal issues, such as a herniated disc, many minimally invasive procedures are available that are effective. One such procedure is a discectomy, which comes in many varieties, and involves removing part of a spinal disc to help resolve the herniation.