There are many ways to treat low back pain. Some choices include:
- Surgery of many types—this carries a great deal of risk.
- Acupuncture—which may not work
- Chiropractic—which works on some patients
- Injectables—only last a few months
- Pharmacological pain management
Of the above, most doctors start with pharmacological pain management. It’s simple and has few side effects. It works best when there is just inflammation and no displacement of lumbar structures. Pharmacological intervention doesn’t always work. It is a good idea to have a trial of about 4-6 weeks before going on to another therapy. You can continue taking medication while trying other medical or surgical therapy.
Most pharmacological therapy begins with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. These include drugs like naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and Celebrex—a prescription medication. Other medications include Cytotec, which is an H2 blocker, which is added in order to add gastrointestinal protection from these other strong medications. Vioxx and Celebrex can be used with fewer side effects of the GI tract.
Narcotic medications can be used for brief episodes of severe pain. These medications include Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycontin. All of these narcotic medications, while effective, are highly addictive and should only be used for short periods and for those who have no previous addiction potential. They act on pain fibers and do nothing to protect the body from inflammation.