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A handful of articles online including from Web MD and US News say that a new Australian review finds there is absolutely no evidence that muscle relaxants ease lower back pain.

Spine Health explains that “Muscle relaxers are not a class of drugs—meaning they do not all have the same chemical structure or work the same way in the brain. Rather, the term muscle relaxer is used to describe a group of drugs that act as central nervous system depressants and have sedative and musculoskeletal relaxant properties.”

I was put on muscle relaxants a long time ago and was swapped from one type to another. The pain team really wanted me to try and take about five at night as they said it would help me sleep in less pain. The dry mouth and other side effects meant that I only take 2 at night but I have taken them for so long I am not sure if they work at all.

With all types of medications when you have been on them for a while your body starts to get used to them and you do not really know if they are working or not unless you come off the medication. I also take a CBD Gummy just before I go to sleep and have felt I do not wake up as often taking one of these. The trouble is they are so expensive.

My many spinal surgeries when I was younger have left me with chronic pain from the discs above and below my fusions so I have no option but to either try different types of medication and/or steroid injections. All of which I do use regularly. But, I do feel they all start to be less effective over time.

In July 2020 Web MD wrote that “muscle relaxants for back pain were soaring but were they safe? Experts worry that muscle relaxants may not help much and could cause troubling side effects, especially in older patients. The study found the rate of long-term prescriptions for muscle relaxants to treat back and other muscle pain tripled between 2005 and 2016.

Web MD continued with the fact that “also concerning, nearly 70% of those prescribed muscle relaxants were given a prescription for an opioid pain-relieving medication like oxycodone (OxyContin) at the same time. Taking these medications together increases the potential risk of ill effects, the researchers said.

This is certainly quite frightening.

The review found that most patients wouldn’t be able to feel any difference in their pain compared to taking a placebo, or sugar pill. Side effects like I pointed out with a dry mouth can also include dizziness, drowsiness, headache and/or nausea, in addition to the risk that patients will develop a lingering addiction. They advise you not to take alcohol with them so if I fancy a drink then I cannot take my relaxants.

They now suggest that we should embrace techniques that focus on alternatives to medicine or surgery. The trouble with this is that you are on a waiting list for any type of treatment like this so what should you use while waiting. It’s a catch-22.

Source: Web MD, Spine Health, US News

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Every time my back pain alerts pops into my inbox I can almost guarantee that there is another article on sciatica pain. I am not sure if it is because I am now a sufferer or it has just become more widespread but this condition seems to be far and wide, which even the Pope is suffering with.

Sciatica is a lower back issue that causes numbness, lack of strength and nerve pain throughout the lower back that tracks down the lower extremities.

Some websites push different types of exercises to do for sciatica like these in the Nap Valley Register, and Healthline who have 6 stretches for sciatica. Although the pain may be severe, sciatica can most often be relieved through physical therapy, chiropractic and massage treatments, improvements in strength and flexibility, and the application of heat and ice packs. I wrote an article recently on What Is Sciatica, And What Can You Buy to Help the Pain which has some products you can buy to help with the pain. Another one I wrote was How to Cope With Sciatica Pain While Driving.

The NHS have a few suggestions including putting a small, firm cushion between your knees when sleeping on your side, or several firm pillows underneath your knees when lying on your back.

Steroid injections are another treatment which I have had a few of recently but my second lot have not been as successful as my first one and as I wrote in a previous post my consultant did mention that it could mean that surgery could be the only option.

Surgery for sciatica is lumber decompression surgery which is usually only considered if non-surgical treatments for your lower spine haven’t worked and symptoms are affecting your quality of life. It is usually done if you are suffering from pain in both your sciatic nerves.

Another surgery is Microdiscectomy which is a common surgical approach used to treat sciatica that is caused by a lumbar disc herniation. In this surgery, a small part of the disc material under the nerve root and/or bone over the nerve root is taken out.

In general, surgery is suggested if sciatica does not subside — or if sciatica nerve pain gets worse — despite all non-surgical treatments. Surgery may be able to provide the much-needed pain relief. Sciatica can affect lower limbs’ function due to nerve compression.

Source: Saint Camillus Medical Centre, NHS, Healthline, Nape Valley Register