We consume pain medication to deal with everything from a headache to chronic back pain. Common pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs, oral steroids, narcotic drugs, muscle relaxants, and anti-depressants all have their uses, benefits, and risks in the struggle against back or neck pain. Knowing more about these medications before you buy and use them can help prevent major issues.

There are multiple over-the-counter (non-prescription) and prescription medications that can be helpful in relieving pain and addressing related symptoms while an episode of back pain is getting better. Careful attention to pain management is a critical component of a patient’s recovery, as acute or chronic low back pain can lead to depression, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty exercising and stretching, all of which in turn can exacerbate and prolong a painful back condition.

Pain relievers are generally available in three forms: oral, topical, and injection.

  • Oral pain medications. There are many forms of pain medications that are taken by mouth – pill or liquid form – and they each work differently and have unique benefits and potential risks. Some are available only by prescription.
  • Topical pain medications. These products are applied to the skin and are intended to reduce localized pain, such as pain from a sore muscle or from an arthritic joint. Most are available without a prescription.
  • Injections. Pain relieving medication and/or anti-inflammatory medications can be injected directly to the source of the pain.