Medications play an effective role in the treatment of back or neck pain. Your doctor may prescribe several medications to help reduce pain and associated symptoms that are caused by unhealthy spinal conditions or deformities.

When treating a chronic lower back pain, the healthcare professional will prescribe a medication regimen, taking into consideration the precise needs of the patient including severity, period of pain and medical history of the individual. The main aim of prescribing medications is to reduce the pain and increase the comfort level of the patient and also to reduce the danger of misuse or abuse of the medications.

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers are medications available without a doctor's prescription. They include acetaminophen, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and topical pain relievers.

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs help to reduce fever and alleviate pain caused by general muscle aches and stiffness. Moreover, NSAIDs can also reduce inflammation. NSAIDs help relieve pain by reducing the level of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that cause pain.
  • Topical pain relievers (Aspercreme, Ben-Gay, and Capsaicin) include creams, lotions and sprays that are applied to the skin of painful muscles or joints to ease pain.

Opioid pain medications: Because of possible toxicity to the body, physical dependence, and the loss of efficacy due to developmental tolerance and psychological dependence or addiction, opioid medical care or narcotic administration is widely rejected in the treatment of chronic back pain.

Opioids are typically prescribed for patients with chronic non-malignant pain, including low back pain who experience high levels of comfort while not developing toxicity to the body or having any indication of psychological dependence or addiction. Opioid therapy should be considered as the last treatment option in cases of unrelieved pain despite alternative medications (such as use of non-opioid drugs). Patients should be informed regarding the side effects of opioids and suggested to follow-up with their doctor regularly. Monthly appointments should be scheduled to assess the dose of the drug until the patient experiences partial or complete relief from pain.

Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are used to reduce swelling caused due to inflammation. When used to control pain, corticosteroids can be prescribed in the form of pills or injections.

Muscle relaxers: Muscle relaxers are drugs that are commonly used to treat acute muscle problems. Sometimes, they can help treat painful muscle spasms. These medications help in reducing muscle tone and tension in skeletal muscles. Some muscle relaxers have direct effect on the skeletal muscle fibers, while others work at the level of the spinal cord.

  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • American Board of Neurological Surgery
  • American Medical Association
  • The Congress of Neurological Surgeons
  • College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland & Labrador
  • North American Skull Base Society
  • North American Spine Society