Medication for Back Pain
Medicines can lower the intensity of your back pain and reduce muscle spasms. There are several different medication options your doctor may recommend.
Your doctor will determine which medication might help based on:
- How long you have been experiencing pain
- Additional symptoms you are experiencing, like muscle spasms
- Your medical history
It is important to be safe with pain medications and follow all your doctor’s instructions carefully.
The most common medications for treating back pain are:
- Acetaminophen and NSAIDs
- Topical pain relievers
- Muscle relaxers
- Opioids and narcotics
- Anti-seizure medicines
Acetaminophen and NSAIDs
Acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications for treating pain you can get without a prescription. Your doctor may also prescribe them in stronger doses.
Acetaminophen inhibits the pain process, but how this works is unknown. Acetaminophen does not fight inflammation.
However, high doses of acetaminophen may cause liver damage. The FDA recommends no more than 4,000 mg of acetaminophen per day, but many doctors suggest taking closer to 3,000 mg.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and common aspirin. These can reduce pain and inflammation and are more potent than acetaminophen.
Common side effects of NSAIDs are stomach pain, nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Long-term use of NSAIDs may cause very dangerous side effects, including:
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Heart problems
- Kidney damage