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If neither rest nor hot or cold treatments alleviates your back pain, your doctor may recommend a pain-relieving drug. Some pain medications can be taken orally, while others require injections. Oral medications include analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, and muscle relaxants--all of which can help relieve back pain and muscle tension or swelling. Over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are the most common pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory drugs. Prescription medications, including muscle relaxants and stronger analgesics, are also options.


Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Taking medication may ease your pain, but does not necessarily treat the underlying problem. Reducing pain can, however, also give your body time to heal. Unless you are already under a physician’s care, you should see a doctor whenever back pain fails to improve within three days.

For many back injuries and spine conditions, taking medication to help control the pain represents one element of treatment. Although medication alone may be tried first, more aggressive treatments are often needed as well. Doctors often prescribe medication in conjunction with a physical therapy regimen. The medication treats the pain, while the physical therapy focuses on strengthening muscles and increasing flexibility, both of which will help to prevent (re)injury.


Do not take any medication except under the explicit direction of any of our providers. Work with your physician so that you can both make an informed decision about what medication(s) you will be taking. Since drug interactions can be serious and potentially fatal, be sure to let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications. Ask questions! You have a right to know, for example, how long you will have to take a medication or if there are any side effects.

Over the Counter

  • Medications containing Aspirin: Anacin, Aspirin, Bayer Arthritis, Bufferin, Darvon Compound, Ecotrin, Excedrin, Fiorinal, Pepto-Bismol, Percodan
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Ansaid, Arthorotec, Bayer, Bextra, Bufferin, Celebrex, Cataflam, Daypro, Ecotrin, Feldene, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin and Excedrin), Indocin, Lodine, Mobic, naproxen, (Aleve, Naprosyn, Anaprox), Orudis, Relafen, Toradol, Vicoprofen, Vioxx, Voltaren
  • Neurontin: drug for nerve pain
  • Opioids: Ultram, Darvocet, Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycotin, MScotin, among others
  • Tylenol and Tylenol derivatives

Important Medication Guidelines

Remember the following when taking pain medication:

  • Many pain medications contain Tylenol (acetominophen). Pharmacists recommend that acetominophen intake should be limited to no more than 2,000mg (2grams) in 24 hours. Liver damage can occur when these amounts are exceeded. Tylenol may also be found in other over the counter medications such as cough and cold medications.
  • Never mix any prescription medication with alcohol.
  • Do not drive motorized vehicles while taking prescription medication as they may cause drowsiness.
  • Pain medication can be very constipating. To avoid this, eat a well balanced diet including fresh fruits, raw vegetables and other fiber rich foods. Drink 6-8 large glasses of water per day.
  • Surgical patients should refer to constipation in the post-operative instruction section.
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