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Low Back Pain (cont.)

Medications

Medicine can decrease low back pain and reduce muscle spasms in some people. But medicine alone is not an effective treatment for low back pain. It should be used along with other treatments, such as exercise and physical therapy.

Medication choices

There are several medicines your doctor may recommend, depending on how long you have had pain, what other symptoms you have, and your medical history.

The medicines recommended most often are:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. You can buy these medicines without a prescription. Some of them also come in stronger doses. For those, you'll need a prescription.
  • Muscle relaxants. These medicines can help when you get bad muscle spasms along with low back pain. Side effects, such as drowsiness, are common.
  • Opiate pain relievers . These are very strong medicines that are sometimes tried to ease sudden, severe back pain that has not been controlled by other medicines. They are usually taken for only 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Antidepressants. Some of these medicines, such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, not only treat depression but also may help with chronic pain.

Other medicines sometimes used for low back pain are:

  • Anesthetic or steroid injections. These have been prescribed for chronic low back pain, but they have not been researched enough to know if they work well for back pain. They may give short-term relief from leg pain related to a back problem.
  • Anticonvulsants. These are sometimes used to treat low back pain, even though there isn't strong evidence that they help.
  • Botox injection. This is a shot into the back muscles. It has not been well tested for chronic low back pain.

Medicines that work for some people don't work for others. Let your doctor know if the medicine you are taking doesn't work for you. You may be able to take another medicine for your back pain.

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