Back pain can be debilitating. There are many different causes of back pain, from muscle strain to arthritis. To those suffering from back pain, the important question isn’t what causes the pain; it is “how do I get rid of it?” There are a number of over the counter medicines available for treating back pain. Here is a list of the most common over the counter drugs for relieving back pain.
NSAIDs or Anti-inflammatory medications
NSAIDS are available both over the counter, and via prescription. The most common over the counter NSAID used to treat back pain is Advil. Non prescription Aleve is another commonly sold anti-inflammatory over the counter drug used to treat back pain. The active ingredient in Advil is Ibuprofen and the active ingredient in Aleve is Naproxen, both drugs are common NSAIDs and both work in a similar fashion with similar side effects. Anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce pain, tenderness, swelling and stiffness by reducing the inflammation. These over the counter drugs can be helpful in relieving the back pain associated with inflammatory and non inflammatory Arthritis. Many individuals experience no side effects when taking NSAIDs, but that is not always the case. Side effects from taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medications include stomach problems, GI bleeding and cardiovascular events. Those with stomach ulcers are told to avoid taking NSAIDs.
Acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, is the most frequently used pain reliever on the market. Acetaminophen can be effective in providing short-term pain relief for mild to moderate back pain that is muscle related. It can also help treat some pain associated with arthritis or common muscle aches. Acetaminophen is not an anti-inflammatory. Other common over the counter medications that contain Acetaminophen as the active ingredient are Excedrin, Vanquish and aspirin free Anacin. Acetaminophen works in the body’s central nervous system, reducing the amount of brain chemicals that excite the pain signals. Excessive use of Acetaminophen can damage the liver and lead to liver failure. People taking Acetaminophen are urged to limit their consumption of alcohol (or eliminate it all together) and to not take more of the medication than prescribed.
Aspirin is another common over the counter pain medication that can be effective in treating back pain. Aspirin contains inflammation by holding back production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are lipid containing substances found in most body tissue. Aspirin is sold under many different brand names including Bayer and Anacin. While many individuals can take aspirin without experiencing side effects, it can cause some serious side effects. Serious side effects that can occur from taking aspirin include stomach problems and cardiovascular events. Those with stomach ulcers should avoid taking aspirin.
Back pain can severely affect the quality of life. Those who suffer from back pain should consult their doctor in order to determine the cause of the back pain and the most effective treatment.