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Use of nsaids for back pain

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Almost everyone has suffered from back pain at some point or other. While for some it may be a momentary discomfort, for others back pain may be a chronic condition that would subsequently restrict mobility. Use of non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs is one way to manage back pain.


Why NSAIDs are used for back pain?

As the name suggests, this category of pain killer work on inflammatory nature of back pain which could be spinal cord stiffness and chronic low back pain due to continuous sitting at work station, hectic travel, etc. Their anti-inflammatory action shows promising improvements on patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis and types of spondyloarthritides.


What are the different types of NSAIDs used for back pain?

The most common types of NSAIDs available as OTC forms are ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen. Common brands for ibuprofen are Motrin and Advil while the brand name for naproxen is Aleve. The prescription drugs used to combat back pain are nabumetone (Relafen), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Voltaren), and meloxicam (Mobic). We shall explain them below:

Ibuprofen: This group of NSAID is the most commonly used drug to manage moderate back pain, including back stiffness and inflammation. You can take ibuprofen when your back is paining due to constant bending while doing household work, stiffness due to sitting on chair, mild strain due to injury, and similar other reasons. 

Naproxen: This drug is available in both prescription and OTC form, nonetheless you should ask your doctor before consuming. This is because Naproxen is a blood thinner and can interfere with other medicines like blood pressure lowering drugs and diuretics.

COX-2 inhibitors: The prescription brand Celebrex falls under this category. The goal of this category of NSAID is same i.e. reducing pain and inflammation. However, the side effects of COX-2 inhibitors are less as compared to Naproxen.

What is the mode of action of NSAIDs in relieving back pain?

The primary action of NSAIDs is to inhibit the anti-inflammatory action of Cyclooxygenase (COX) which is also known as prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase (PTGS). It helps in synthesis of prostaglandins (PGS) which are capable of bringing about a strong physiological response like sensitizing spinal neuronal pain and mediation of inflammation. NSADs have selective action on COX 1 and COX 2 enzyme, which results in reduced pain and inflammation.


What are the side effects of NSAIDs?

Just like any other medicines, NSAIDs can also have side effects. The most common side effects of NSAIDs are stomach pain, nausea, heartburn and diarrhoea. The side effects differ from one individual to other. The risk of experiencing side effects is more in people with gastrointestinal disease and sensitive stomach. Thus, NSAIDs like Naproxen are usually advised to consume with food. Although not very common, when carelessly handled, NSAIDs can cause stomach ulcers and bleeding, raise your blood pressure or might even trigger an allergic response.


What to consider before taking NSAIDs for back pain?

If you are having back pain for a long time and your doctor considers a treatment plan, then you must tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking. Also let your doctor know about a pre-existing medical condition like gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, high/low blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, etc, if you are pregnancy or planning to get pregnant. The course of the medicine will be planned according to your health condition.

Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: June 03, 2014

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