Over-The-Counter Medications – What Works For Back Pain?

When your back hurts, the only thing that you want is relief and fast. The fastest way sometimes is to reach for a pill or tablet or powder. But, are these over-the-counter medications the right move for long-term back pain relief?

Over-the-counter medications, or OTCs, are sometimes advertised as the “solution” to all your back pain troubles. When something hurts, stings, pinches, twitches, or has us bent over in pain, we reach for a pill. Which one we take is a result of that “armchair physician” again. Which pill do you choose?

Here are a few facts about OTCs to help you decide which one is right for your back pain, and which one isn’t:

Aspirin – This is sometimes prescribed for heart health, but it is actually one of the earliest known pain relievers. Although known as a pain reliever, aspirin is actually used widely as an anti-inflammatory. Some reasons to avoid aspirin? If you have an ulcer, aspirin will aggravate it and can cause dangerous results. Aspirin are not to be given to children because of a condition called Reye’s syndrome.

Cox-2 inhibitors – These would be Celebrex and Vioxx. Celebrex has been controversial as it pertains to heart issues but is still prescribed for back pain. Cox-2 enzymes increase pain and inflammation.

NSAIDs – The proper name is Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This is most of the other OTCs that are given for pain: Naproxen sodium (Aleve), acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

It is worth noting that, while OTCs are not addictive like some prescription pain killers, they do have side effects when taken incorrectly or over a long period of time. Follow the label directions precisely. It’s when we don’t follow the directions, for instance when pain is intense and we take a few more pills or take them closer together, that we are endangering our health. This is considered to be an overdose and very dangerous.

NSAIDs inhibit the Cox-2 and the Cox-1 enzymes. Cox-1 enzymes provide a protective coating for the digestive system. Taking too many over-the-counter drugs eliminates that lining and causes gastro-intestinal issues; yes, you could develop an ulcer.

Are Over-the-Counter Medications Safe to Take for Back Pain?

Normally yes, if taken in moderation and for mild pain at the outset. When you begin to overdose, taking higher and higher doses to compensate for the pain, it is time to investigate other methods of treatment with your doctor or health care professional. Medications, whether prescription or over-the-counter, are meant to be taken seriously and monitored. For your health and the health of your back, only take medication as directed and only when the results are positive.

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