Are Over The Counter Pills Worthless for Back Pain?

Back pain is one of the most common health problems that people deal with today. Multiple sources have stated that more than 50% of the population will experience it at some point in their lifetimes.

People will try all types of remedies to alleviate back pain, from stretching to using ice or heat to hanging from inversion tables, with varying degrees of relief. But one of the easiest treatments may actually be the least effective, despite being one of the most-used. It seems that just popping a few over the counter painkillers to ease back pain may not actually be helping for the majority of people, to the tune of only 1 in 6 actually getting significant relief!

Just Like Rolling The Dice

In a review published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, researchers looked at 35 studies that evaluated the use of common NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. They looked at treatments by over 6,000 people where average usage was around seven days. Based on results vs placebo for determining if there was improvement in spinal pain, some benefit was attained, but the improvement was only considered clinically significant for one out of every six people. Not a big advantage or benefit, considering how many people just “pop a pill” (or several) each day and then try to go about their daily routines.

The other side of the coin is then to ask, if there really isn’t significant benefit, are there any risks to adding the extra chemicals to the body? The answer is yes, as it was noted that the chance of having a gastrointestinal reaction was two and a half times greater when taking one of the NSAIDs for spinal pain. So, if dealing with back pain wasn’t enough, why not throw stomach troubles into the mix just for good measure? (And then possibly another drug to deal with THAT issue?…)

So, Other Options Are?

Occasionally it may be necessary to take medication if there are no other options immediately available, but if you have the chance to be proactive, there are some things you can do to help in many cases. Frozen gel packs are a great first line defense as the cold can help reduce inflammation and provide a numbing effect to reduce pain (much like the meds do), without adding the risk of any stomach issues.

Chiropractic adjustments are another treatment that millions of people take advantage of every year to help with back and neck pain. If spinal joints are misaligned and causing pressure on nerves (what people typically think of as a “pinched nerve”), the adjustments can often help restore proper alignment and joint motion and typically offer lasting relief if the problem is not complicated by other issues.

We offer both chiropractic and therapy services at our office, as well as pain management for more difficult cases. So instead of reaching for that Aleve or Advil and rolling the dice to hope that your lucky number comes up to get relief, why not give our office a call for an initial evaluation so we can help you identify the cause of your pain and work on providing you a lasting solution without the risk of more problems?