Medications and Supplements

No drug can cure back pain, but certain medications are recommended to relieve symptoms temporarily. Acetaminophen has been shown to be an effective anti-pain medication with few side effects. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, are also effective for reducing inflammation and relieving pain.
NSAIDs have a few side effects, mostly involving the digestive system. However, NSAIDs can cause adverse effects at large doses or in the elderly. Acetaminophen and NSAIDs, both of which are available without a prescription, are considered the safest and most effective drugs for treating back pain. One of the more popular brands of acetaminophen is Tylenol. Common brands of ibuprofen are Motrin and Advil.

Narcotic drugs may be used to treat severe pain. However,most current studies show that narcotics are no more effective in promoting healing or relieving pain than acetaminophen or NSAIDs.

Furthermore, there is a high risk of physical dependence associated with narcotics, which is a big concern. Narcotics can also blur judgement and cause serious drowsiness.

Oral steroids, cholchicine (a drug for gouty arthritis) or anti-depressant drugs have not proven effective in treating back pain. They have significant side effects, including diarrhea, vomiting, dry mouth and drowsiness. Therefore, physicians rarely recommend them.

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