NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly
taken for back pain. They are fairly cheap, very accessible
to buy; also very safe if used correctly and come in several
strengths and forms.
Unlike narcotics, NSAIDs are
non-addictive; they do not interfere with respiratory function
and do not bring on a sedative effect. As the name suggests
they do not contain any steroidal agents and the most common
forms of NSAID are aspirin and ibuprofen.
Paracetamol is often grouped
in this group but is not seen by everyone as a true NSAID
as its anti-inflammatory properties are low.
NSAIDs are very helpful in
reducing swelling, inflammation, pain and temperature. They
work by messing with the chemical chains of reaction within
Indications for Use
NSAIDs are very commonly used
in both acute and chronic pain, though using it over a long
period is not recommended due to the risk of gastric irritancies.
Most back pain comes with, or is due to, inflammation; these
drugs can be taken simply for their anti-inflammatory effects.
Conditions such as rheumatoid
arthritis, osteoarthritis, period pain, headache, metastatic
bone pain, post-operative pain, ankylosing spondylitis and
fever can be helped by the use of NSAIDs.
Aspirin is also commonly used
in the treatment of some blood disorders as it helps to stop
blood thickening and clotting. Ibuprofen is mostly effective
is the treatment of lower back pain and ligament, muscle and
tendon pain in the cervical spine region.
Precautions for Use
Most users of NSAIDs should
take the lowest dose and for the shortest time to lessen the
risk of any side-effects, though NSAIDs should be taken on
regular intervals, as directed, in order to feel the maximum
anti-inflammatory benefits. You should not take NSAIDs for
more than three weeks.
NSAIDs are not recommended
to be taken during pregnancy, except with the exception of
paracetamol and aspirin which may be taken under medical care.
As these drugs are metabolised in the liver and taken out
through the kidneys, medical advice should be sought after
if you have any liver or kidney diseases and disorders.
If other medications are being
taken for blood or cardiovascular conditions then aspirin
should be taken with care. As many other medicines, such as
cold and flu remedies contain paracetamol, which is why it
is important to read all labels carefully and take medication
as directed to avoid an unintended overdose.
In the event of an overdose,
even if it’s only a minor one, you should seek medical
advice, as liver impairment can occur. Reported side-effects,
particularly of prolonged use of NSAIDs, include heartburn,
stomach upsets and nausea. To try and avoid these happening,
take medications with food and plenty of water.
Although it is rare, if there
are any signs of an allergic reaction, such as swelling of
the face or airway or trouble breathing, seek medical attention
straight away and where it is possible, take the container
of the drug with you to the hospital.
The risk of taking non steroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs is small and they are relatively safe
for most people. They are effective at both reducing swelling
and as an analgesic. They can be bought without prescription
but should not be taken for over a lengthy period. You should
always read the label and follow directions carefully.