Lumbar (Low Back) Pain Medications

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Medication as a Lumbar Pain Treatment

Lumbar pain, also known as low back pain, is the leading cause of disability for Americans under the age of 45. Most cases of mild to moderate lower back pain can be effectively treated with over-the-counter medications. More severe lumbar pain may only respond to prescription medication treatments.

Lumbar Pain Treatment –Medication

The causes and severity of your lumbar pain will determine the type of medication your doctor recommends in treating it. Low-level pain often responds to analgesics or anti-inflammatory medicines. In more severe cases, a muscle relaxant may be warranted and prescribed. Extreme back pain may require the use of stronger controlled prescriptions but this is a measure that is only suggested in the short term and should be prescribed and carefully monitored by a spine pain management expert.

Is Medication the Right Lumbar Pain Treatment For You?

Lumbar spine pain can have many causes, and many medications are available to treat the problem. The first course of action is usually over-the-counter pain medications and analgesics like acetylsalicylic acid (ASA, commonly sold under the brand name “Aspirin”), acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). If the lower back pain is not eased using over-the-counter solutions, other medications may be prescribed by a physician who specializes in pain management of conditions involving the spine.

Some muscle relaxants, like Aleve, can ease lumbar spine pain. They work by delivering a sedative effect, and may be most effective for patients when used in the evening. The sedative effect can help the sufferer to get the good night’s sleep that is often elusive in the presence of low back pain, but the downside is that they shouldn’t be used during the day if the patient is driving or operating machinery – as the sedative effect can make it unsafe to perform certain activities.

Anticonvulsants like carbamazepine and gabapentin can reduce pain and increase the patient’s pain tolerance. The benefits and the downside are essentially the same as with muscle relaxants – the patient will be somewhat sedated and will probably sleep better, but certain activities during the daytime are best avoided due to the sedative effect. An additional downside is that it frequently takes several weeks of taking the medication for the patient to experience relief.

Tricyclic antidepressants, or TCAs, are also frequently indicated for lumbar pain, but with this type of medication, the side effects increase. The patient may become overly drowsy, again limiting the type of daily activities that can be pursued. Additional complications include constipation, dry eyes, and dry mouth. If used in conjunction with other medications, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) can result. For this reason, TCAs are problematic when it comes to treating lumbar pain in the elderly.

At the high end of the medication treatments for lumbar pain-relief scale are oral opioids (Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Percodan, Norco, for example). These are prescribed only for extreme lumbar pain, and only in the short term.

If you are experiencing lumbar spine pain, there are medications available that can alleviate the problem. You don’t have to suffer. Our lumbar back pain experts can recommend a medication treatment plan that is right for you.

At a Glance: Medication as a Lumbar Pain Treatment

  • When using medication for lumbar pain, keep in mind that increasing the recommended dosage will not necessarily ease the pain and should not be done without the treating physician’s knowledge
  • Most pain medications are best taken with food in order to minimize gastric discomfort
  • Combining medications can be dangerous, never do this without talking to your doctor about it
  • Some medications should be used only at night because of their sedative effect.

Health Tips For Lumbar Spine

  • Lower back pain can be well managed and even prevented if you exercise regularly
  • Lower back injuries can be caused by sudden impact or strain, so be careful when walking on slippery surfaces, and remember to lift using your leg muscles
  • When carrying heavy items, try to distribute the weight evenly
  • Avoid sitting in one position for long periods of time –get up and stretch frequently

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