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What is the best medication for back pain?

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Quick Answer

There are a number of categories and types of back pain medication available, advises WebMD. The severity, duration and position of a person's symptoms, as well as her tolerance of certain side effects help determine an appropriate course of treatment.

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Full Answer

Most people experiencing back pain first try an over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug - NSAID-, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which are mild analgesics and are the first tier of treatment, according to WebMD. Acetaminophen is also available over-the-counter, and while not a NSAID, it is commonly used to treat back pain.

Prescription-only NSAIDs, such as celecoxib, diclofenac, meloxicam and nabumetone are other oral medication options, while some people use anti-inflammatories in the form of a topical cream, says WebMD. Topical treatments containing capsaicin, camphor, menthol and eucalyptus oil may also help with pain. If the above-mentioned medications are unsuccessful in relieving back pain, a doctor may suggest a patient also try a muscle relaxant, such as cyclobenzaprine, tizanidine, baclofen or carisoprodol, states WebMD.

When NSAIDs and muscle relaxants are insufficient to deal with back pain, opioids and narcotics, such as hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and tramadol, can be effective, according to WebMD. Corticosteroids are another stronger medication that people take either orally or with an injection into the back.

Adjuvant therapies involve treating back pain with anti-depressants, such as duloxetine and amitriptyline, or anti-seizure drugs, like pregabalin or gabapentin. As WebMD explains, these medications can be very effective on pain cause by nerve problems.

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