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Back Pain Relief Medications Explained

Jan 5, 2008
At some point in their lives, a staggering eighty percent Americans will suffer with back pain. Of course, this type of pain is big business for pharmaceutical companies, with a huge market of desperate patients buying and trying new pain remedies as soon as they are churned out. Countless remedies are available, so it's not easy to know which are best for delivering the back pain relief you need.

Back pain is second only to headaches as the most common painful conditions affecting adults 30 and over. In fact, the condition is so common that four of every five people will develop or are already experiencing back pain.

Fortunately, many treatment options are available for those suffering the rigors of back pain. In addition to medications, physical therapy and exercise are viable options to bring relief from back pain.

You'll find many back pain medications that can be purchased over the counter, without a prescription. These drugs can help relieve the pain, and can also address the symptoms associated with episodes of back pain. There is also a wide choice of back pain medications that are available only with a doctor's prescription.


One of the main types of over-the-counter back pain medications, acetaminophen is a pain-relieving drug that acts by switching off the brain's pain perception. It is unlike other back pain medications, which offer anti-inflammatory benefits in addition to painkilling properties.

A common dosage for back pain relief is up to 1000 mg taken every four hours, provided that you do not exceed more than 4000 mg within twenty-four hours. These types of drugs are among the most popular, because of their ability to act quickly in providing back pain relief.

People who use acetaminophens enjoy other benefits, in addition to relief from pain:

* It's not common for people to have allergic reactions with this type of medication

* There are some side effects from taking acetaminophens

* Acetaminophens do not cause addiction

* Even with extended use, patients are slow to develop a tolerance to acetaminophens. For that reason, these drugs keep their pain-relieving properties for a longer period of time

NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs)

Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs, or NSAIDs, are another classification of commonly used, over-the-counter back pain medications. Inflammation is a contributing factor in many of the painful episodes that patients encounter, so the anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are especially helpful. Like aspirin, NSAIDs provide back pain relief by limiting the formation of inflammation. Unlike aspirin, however, there are fewer gastrointestinal side effects.

COX-2 Inhibitors, Ibuprofen and Naproxen are among the most common NSAID drugs.


When back pain is severe, particularly in the lower back, doctors will sometimes prescribe narcotics. Because of their addictive properties, narcotic drugs are only available with a doctor's prescription. These medications are extremely potent and highly addictive.

Narcotic pain medications are dissociative in nature, meaning they don't actually deaden the pain. Instead, the drugs disassociate the patient from the feeling of pain. Codeine, propoxyphene, hydrocodone and oxycodone are all types of narcotic medications prescribed to bring back pain relief.

Chronic back pain can be a symptom of a more serious underlying disease. If your back pain lasts for more than a couple of weeks, or if the pain is too severe for over-the-counter medications, see your doctor. With a doctor's proper diagnosis, you'll be better prepared to find a treatment that brings relief from your back pain.
About the Author
Contributor Sheila Ffloyd enjoys writing articles for numerous web magazines, such as http://lutad.com and http://foxow.com.
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