Hurting your back is not only painful but inconvenient. It often results in decreased activity and sometimes the inability to work or complete activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, or getting dressed. So what could be the best medication for back pain?
To solve this problem people who suffer from back pain whether it is sudden, onset or long-lasting has a variety of options. These include exercise, natural remedies, and painkillers sold over the counter or prescribed by a doctor. All of these methods work in their own way and in combination, but which type of method is the best medication for back pain?
The question is not only what type of pill to take but what approach to follow. Are exercises and home remedies the best types of painkillers compared to traditional medications? There are several things to consider with the onset of back pain and any injury.
As healthcare evolves and access to good healthcare improves, patients have more options for treatments that can allow them to find the best type of medication for their back pain. As drug addiction rises and becomes a more prevalent problem, healthcare providers are forced to understand their role in the issue. Often times prescribed drugs for back pain can be addictive and lead to illegal drug use and addiction resulting in more harm to the patient.
Depending on the access you have to care within your insurance plan will have a large impact on what path you seek and approach to treatment you receive. Carefully review your individual benefits package to know what options you have – especially as flexible spending funds and treatment choices are available to you with or without referrals.
Type of Pain Killers
There are many types of painkillers available today for various reasons. Starting with the most common and widely used medications are NSAIDs or Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. One of the best things about this painkiller is that it is readily available to keep at home or on the go when you need it.
NSAIDs are available over the counter for a variety of use, a few examples of this are ibuprofen, mefenamic acid, and high-dose aspirin. They can reduce muscular, joint, tendon, headache, and fever pain through a low dose. However, prescription NSAIDs are also in use for more severe conditions that are chronic or long-lasting inflammation and pain.
These medications, because they are stronger in dosage, are used under the close direction of your healthcare provider to make sure they are being used appropriately.
NSAIDs are a great pain killer and have been proven effective for much of the population.
One can use a yacht to get across the lake but a canoe works too and there are benefits and risks to each approach depending on your situation. Knowing that each method has its own risks and rewards in short and long-term use should guide your decision following an evaluation by a healthcare professional as possible.
NSAIDs sound like one of the best types of painkillers, but what are the risks of their use? Over time the biggest risk is that NSAIDs can increase your risk of internal bleeding and cardiac events. If you have a family history or previous experience with either of those issues you should consult your doctor (FDA, 2018).
Also, combined with alcohol use the medication can be stressful on your kidneys and liver over time filtering out the substances. These are all issues to ask your pharmacist and doctor if you have any history of concerns about potential issues. Additionally, these risks are real even though these medications are widely used on a daily basis.
Keep in mind that commonly used drugs still have side effects that should be considered before use.
Moving up the chain of dosage intensity and level of care are opioids.
These painkillers are best for a short duration and for intense pain. To judge your pain it is typically on a scale of 1-10. 1 being nearly no pain and 10 being the worst pain you have ever experienced in your life.
There is no specific recommendation for what side of the scale you are on and what type of painkiller is best, but there is clearly an appropriate and inappropriate time to use the more powerful drugs. This is why they are not sold over the counter and a physician must give approval for you to have access to them.
Non-Drug Pain Killers
As mentioned above, drugs are commonly used for the relief of pain whether it is acute or chronic, highly painful or mildly uncomfortable. Understanding your body and pain threshold is valuable in communicating your needs to your doctor or pharmacist. As well as understanding how to advocate yourself in pain management. Outside of prescription drug use, there are many treatments to reduce and alleviate symptoms of back pain altogether.
One of those ways is physical therapy. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA, 2018) physical therapists are prepared to help patients with low back pain through a stretch and strengthening exercises, manual therapy techniques, posture, and biomechanical instruction. These treatment options are effective for a variety of patients and do not involve drugs. Having a licensed physical therapist working with you to slowing progress exercises and provide various techniques is one of the best painkillers available.
The non-drug treatments that physical therapists provide are often movement based and focused on regaining function that is pain-free for the patient. The goal is using drugs is to reduce pains sensation.
From a holistic point of view, it makes sense to work towards regaining function and reducing pain working within an appropriate range of motion under the guidance of a physical therapist. But there are also times where physical therapy is inappropriate until the patient can tolerate that physical load of treatment if their pain is too much initially.
Other Remedies That Prove To Be The Best Medication for Back Pain
Heat and Ice
Other options to consider outside of drugs and professional healthcare depending on your situation include ice, heat, and stretching the back through exercise and other movements. This can be the best painkiller if used appropriately and safely under the correct conditions.
Many of us have ice packs at home, heating pads, and can perform several basic stretches to reduce pain and sensitivity. The most important thing to keep in mind is to maintain a pain-free range of motion and identify movements that work for you while avoiding movements that do not work until your pain decreases enough to attempt them.
Starting with heat and ice, how do we know what one is the best painkiller? Heat increases inflammation, blood flow, and also soothes muscle soreness. If your low back pain is a muscle spasm and not a joint issue heat can be a great alternative to medications or waiting to see your doctor. However, if the injury is acute and you experience a sudden onset then heat is not the way to go and it can even make your condition worse.
Ice is fantastic for acute injuries and sudden onset of symptoms. It is the best painkiller for inflammation in joints and muscles that rapidly occurs. Using an ice pack for 10-15 minutes following onset of symptoms can be effective to regulate pain and encourage a faster healing process. Ice is also great following rehabilitation exercises and manual therapy interventions to reduce the side effects of those treatments.
While ice decreases inflammation and reduces pain by numbing the area, heat will soothe the pain and soreness. Experiencing chronic symptoms is a sign that heat can help as long as you are not chronically swollen or inflamed from your condition. Heating the area for 10-15 minutes at a time will have the soothing effects on the joints and muscles experiencing pain.
It should be noted that both ice and heat can cause skin irritation and that several layers should be between the heat or cold source and the area of the body to properly apply the desired temperature of treatment.
If you are able to move you should start moving as soon as possible. Movement is key for back injuries if you can walk, stand up, or change positions. It is easy to want to not move with a low back injury but one of the best painkillers is getting back into a normal routine.
Static stretching can also be a great way to alleviate pain once you are confident and able to move through a pain-free range of motion. Focusing on hamstring stretches, yoga poses for the low back such a child’s pose, and maintaining good posture will all support a healthy spine and act as painkillers.
I wrote a full article on my take on CBD Oil which I believe can be of great value for people, both searching for remedies in this topic as well as for people suffering from general health conditions.
To get some initial understanding, CBD comes from cannabis. Cannabis can be both marijuana and hemp. They are two different plants but in the same family. The difference is that marijuana contains THC, which is the substance that makes people high – and a lower amount of CBD, whereas hemp is higher in CBD and contains next to no THC at all.
So, hemp and CBD makes you healthy, not high. There is no psychoactive effect whatsoever. And as you know, industrial hemp is both legal and used in a lot of different products.
What CBD cannabidiol does is that it works with the system in our body called the endocannabinoid system. And the purpose of this system is to feed all the other systems of the body that regulates how the body functions. It controls the nerves and the nervous system, which is hugely important for so many of our health concerns and struggles we are having today.
To summarize, what is the best type of painkiller for back pain? The best type of painkiller is the one that works for you, and it could be a drug, exercise, stretch, physical therapy treatment, or combination of many.
As mentioned several times the ultimate goal of getting rid of the pain is to move again and restore function. That should always be the goal of the provider to help their patients with. It often does require painkillers of some kind initially, but killing the pain will not solve the issue long-term or restore proper function prior to the event.
The best type of painkiller is staying informed on your individual needs and seeking a collection of treatments that are appropriate for your situation.