While pain medication does not actually heal a back or neck injury, conservative use can relieve pain and allow time for an injury to heal or for treatments such as physical therapy to have a chance to work. We work closely with you to ensure any medications are used conservatively, appropriately and for as little time as possible.
There are various types and categories of medication available, depending on the severity of your symptoms, how long you’ve had them, and where they are located.
Over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve), are the most common medications for people with back or neck pain. Prescription NSAIDS are also available. Often, for mild to moderate pain, NSAID’s are all that is needed and pain will improve within a few weeks.
If over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription NSAIDs are not relieving your back pain, your doctor may suggest adding a muscle relaxant. Muscle relaxants may be useful for acute injuries and to calm muscle spasms.
In some cases, NSAIDs and muscle relaxants do not provide adequate relief. If you have long-lasting, chronic back pain, you may be prescribed opioid or narcotic medications. These drugs act on pain receptors in the brain and nerve cells to alleviate pain.
Similar to anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroids can also relieve inflammation and alleviate back pain. They can be taken either orally or via injection into your back.
In cases in which your back or neck pain is caused by nerve damage or inflammation, your physician may prescribe an antidepressant or an anti-seizure drug. These medications, while not originally developed for back or neck pain, have been found to be effective in reducing pain caused by nerve problems.