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Guide to Low Back Pain


Updated June 03, 2014

7 of 10

Part 7 of 10 - What Medications Are Used to Treat Low Back Pain?

Medications are often used to treat acute and chronic low back pain.

Effective pain relief may involve a combination of prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies. Patients should always check with a doctor before taking any drugs for pain relief.

OTC Drugs

Over-the-counter NSAIDs are taken orally to reduce stiffness, swelling, and inflammation and to ease mild to moderate low back pain. These drugs include:


Topical counter-irritants applied to the skin as a cream or spray stimulate the nerve endings in the skin to provide feelings of warmth or cold and dull the sense of pain. Many topical analgesics can also reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow. The topical salicylates also contain salicylate, the same ingredient found in oral pain medications containing aspirin.


Anticonvulsants may be useful in treating certain types of nerve pain and may also be prescribed with analgesics


Some antidepressants have been shown to relieve pain (independent of their effect on depression) and assist with sleep.

Antidepressants alter levels of brain chemicals to elevate mood and dull pain signals. Many newer antidepressants are also being studied for their effectiveness in pain relief


Painkillers (opioids) are prescribed to treat severe acute and chronic back pain but should be used only for a short period of time and under a doctor’s supervision. These include:

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