Lower Back Pain Treatments
Lower back pain is pain that is experienced in the lower back, possibly radiating away from the origin of the injury. The patient's pain may be isolated in one area of the lower back, or it may radiate away from the injury - usually down one or both legs. The lower back pain treatments that are offered to treat the patient's symptoms will be associated with the cause of the pain and how long the patient has been suffering. Let's take a look at what options are available for those people suffering from acute or chronic lower back pain.
Medications: Medications for back pain are designed to do one of three things: treat the pain, treat the inflammation that causes the pain, and to release the muscle tension in the back muscles. Some of these medications do one of these three things, while others do two or more of these things. The type of medications that doctors prescribe will depend on the cause of the pain, the specific symptoms that are causing the patient to be in distress, pain levels, and duration of suffering. Doctors will try to be as conservative as possible in treating the patient with medications, in terms of holding back prescriptions that contain narcotic medications. Narcotic medications may treat severe back pain symptoms that other treatments and medications were unable to provide some relief for. The most commonly prescribed medications for low back pain are:
Anti-inflammatory drugs and Acetaminophen (Aspirin): Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin may be able to control pain levels by preventing or reducing inflammation around the inflamed joints or soft tissues of the lower back. These drugs are available over the counter, though they may also be purchased through a doctor's prescription to save money on price. Some of these medications, especially acetaminophen, may be combined with other medications to enhance the pain relieving benefits.
Muscle relaxants: Many patients with lower back pain experience symptoms because of tension or spasms of the lower back muscles. These muscles may become tense due to emotional stress or as a reflexive response to an injury to one of the other structures in the back. In these cases, patients won't experience pain relief into the tension in the back muscles releases. Muscle relaxants have an overall sedative effect on the body, including the muscles. For this reason, these types of medications are also called sedatives. This medication should be taken at home, due to associated side effects such as drowsiness.
Antidepressants: these medications are often used to treat nerve pain. It is also known that many patients with chronic psychological problems also suffer from chronic pain. That being said, many patients with depression and anxiety may experience pain relief related to the treatment of their mood disorder. Antidepressants such as duloxetine and amitryptyline may treat chronic pain as well as depression.
Anticonvulsants: Anticonvulsants are a less common medication for lower back pain, though they may be prescribed when other medications fail to have a significant effect.
Narcotic pain medications: For some patients, narcotic pain medications are the only drugs that are able to provide patients with some level of relief. This is why they are sometimes prescribed in spite the risk of dependence and addiction. These medications are opioid based and may provide significant pain relief as well as a general euphoric effect. Both of these effects decrease over time, given the same dose of medication. For this reason, patients need to keep increasing dosage levels to get the same effects as before. For this reason, these medications are risky to take, even though they have the potential to provide patients that are really suffering with some pain relief.
Anesthetic or steroid injections: These treatments involve much smaller dosages of medication because they are applied directly to an injured part of the back, as opposed to having to be filtered throughout the body after being taken orally. These medications block the transmission of pain signals from their point of origin so that they do not travel beyond that level of the spine.
Botox injection: While muscle relaxants have an overall sedative effect on all the muscles, these injections directly target those that are in spasm or chronically tight. The active ingredient of this medication - onabotulinumtoxinA - is used to break up stiff muscle stiffness (spasticity).
Each of these medications work for some people and not others. That's the reason that there are some many offerings and mechanisms of action.
Physical Therapy: Physical therapy is the only back pain treatment that doesn't have inherent side effects, though in some cases, patients do become re-injured during physical therapy exercises. Physical therapy is a system of exercises and movements that are designed to improve strength and flexibility of muscles and soft tissues that have been affected by wear and tear, injury, and surgery.