The Problem With Medication For Back Pain Relief.



Medication For Back Pain Relief.


PillsIf you’ve ever seen your doctor for a spinal condition, there is a very good chance that you would have been prescribed medication for back pain relief. In fact, if you have visited your medical doctor with back pain, this is their usual first action, prescribing pain killers. But which ones are the most effective, and are they really the best idea in the first place?

There are many different pain medications that are effective in back pain relief, but there is also a problem. Besides the fact that all medications carry so called ‘side effects’ (really just the effects of the drug that are harmful), it’s also important to understand that pain is not the problem, it’s just the symptom of underlying spinal problems. Unless you identify and address the underlying cause, your back problems are probably going to worsen over time (more on this later).


  • Tylenol/Panadol (Acetaminophen/Paracetomol)

The most widely available medication that is used to treat pain and fever. It is typically used for mild to moderate pain, although some studies are suggesting that it is not effective for back pain at all. It is generally considered safe at recommended dosage, and it’s effects last between 2-4 hours. First discovered in 1877, although it’s mechanism of action is not fully understood, it is the most commonly used medication for pain and fever in both the United States, Australia and Europe.

As well as it’s desired effects, Acetaminophen/Paracetomol can easily cause unwanted side effects. Acute overdose can be fatal, due to liver failure. The most common side effect is liver damage, as Acetaminophen/Paracetomol is toxic to the liver. Even healthy adults regularly taking the prescribed dose are more likely to show abnormal liver function tests. Acetaminophen/Paracetomol may also cause potentially fatal skin reactions, known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS), toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), and acute generalized exanthematous pustulosis (AGEP), often without warning.


  • NSAIDS (Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen)

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are a class of drugs that provide pain relief, reduce fever and in high doses, decrease inflammation. The most common NSAIDS are aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen and they are widely available over the counter in most countries. In 2001 NSAIDS accounted for 70,000,000 prescriptions and 30 billion over the counter doses sold annually in the United States .

Considering the sheer amount of NSAIDS that are taken every day, the adverse effects are quite shocking and are becoming increasingly common. The main adverse effects of NSAIDS relate to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). A dual attack of the acidic molecules of NSAIDS combined with the decrease in protective prostoglandins can result in nausea and vomiting, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, and gastric ulcers and bleeding which can be fatal.

Other adverse effects include kidney problems, irritable bowel, possible erectile dysfunction, cardiovascular problems such as myocardial infarction and stroke (remember Vioxx), photosensitivity and allergic reactions.

Ironically, NSAIDS are also thought to disrupt cartilage synthesis, leading to joint destruction! So by treating joint pain with NSAIDS, you are actually making the problem much, much worse!


  • Selective COX-2 Inhibitors (Celebrex)

Essentially a new class of NSAIDS, Cox-2 Inhibitors work by limiting the formation of inflammation, and therefore reducing pain levels. Even though Celebrex is prescription only, in 2011 it was prescribed 11 million times, even to children as young as 2 years old!

Known adverse effects of Celebrex include a 37{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} increase in incidence of major vascular events, which include nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke, or death from a blood vessel-related cause. An 81{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} increase in incidence of upper gastrointestinal complications occurs, which include perforations, obstructions, or gastrointestinal bleeding.  In July 2015 the FDA strengthened the warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause heart attacks or strokes.

On top of these potentially fatal effects, Pfizer, who markets Celebrex, lied about research into it’s efficacy and safety to boost their sales (quite successfully too, it is one of their best selling drugs).


Other Options For Back Pain Relief.

Firstly, if you suffer with back pain, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis as to the underlying cause of your back pain. Once this is clear you can then address the issue right at the root. you might need a course of chiropractic or physiotherapy, or a specific exercise program.

Natural ways to relieve back pain include using ice packs. It is also worth checking out the amazing health benefits of tumeric. As well as controlling inflammation, it is known to treat over 600 diseases including Alzheimers and even cancer.


A Word On Inflammation

All these medication of back pain relief have anti-inflammatory effects. Whilst this makes them effective at reducing pain the question needs to be asked ‘Why is there inflammation in the first place?’ Quite simply, inflammation is your body’s repair process after an injury. When you hurt yourself to the point of tissue damage, your body goes into repair mode to fix and restore the broken bits. It is the healing process, pure and simple. By interfering with this incredible, natural process of repair, the body cannot effectively heal properly. The long term effects of this is unclear, but is definitely food for thought.


If you have ongoing back pain, it is strongly advised that you seek professional advice. Just remember that taking medication could be harming you. You simply need to address the root cause to get lasting relief for back pain.


If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please support us and share so we can help more people! Thankyou.



  • Green GA (2001). “Understanding NSAIDs: from aspirin to COX-2”. Clinical cornerstone. 3 (5): 50–60. doi:10.1016/S1098-3597(01)90069-9. ISSN 1098-3597. PMID 11464731
  • Bhala N, Emberson J, Merhi A, Abramson S, Arber N, Baron JA, Bombardier C, Cannon C, Farkouh ME, FitzGerald GA, Goss P, Halls H, Hawk E, Hawkey C, Hennekens C, Hochberg M, Holland LE, Kearney PM, Laine L, Lanas A, Lance P, Laupacis A, Oates J, Patrono C, Schnitzer TJ, Solomon S, Tugwell P, Wilson K, Wittes J, Baigent C (Aug 31, 2013). “Vascular and upper gastrointestinal effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: meta-analyses of individual participant data from randomised trials”. Lancet. 382 (9894): 769–79. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60900-9. PMC 3778977free to read. PMID 23726390
  • “FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA strengthens warning that non-aspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can cause heart attacks or strokes”. Food and Drug Administration. 9 July 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  • “Should you still take Celebrex?”. Consumer Reports. August 2009. Retrieved 27 December 2015.


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