One of the best ways to treat back pain is with medication. While holistic methods like correcting your posture, yoga, acupuncture, etc. are all relatively effective in the long run… but when it comes to immediate pain relief, nothing beats the effectiveness of oral medication.

There are several different types of drugs use to treat back pain. Some can be purchased over-the-counter while others will need to be prescribed by a doctor. Generally, the more potent drugs will require a doctor’s prescription.

The symptoms and severity of your condition will dictate what drugs are prescribed to you.


Most of the time, you can get painkillers over-the-counter. Panadol also known as acetaminophen or Tylenol is the most common type of painkiller. It’s used by people to treat everything from headaches to back pain to fevers.

There are also pain relief creams that are used to treat muscular aches and back pain. Usually these creams contain menthol/methylsalicylate which gives the ‘cool’ feeling when applied. Some creams may contain capsaicin too.

The creams while effective, take time to work. The most immediate relief is that your pain signals get altered when your skin is feeling hot and cool at the same time because of the creams.

Aspirin is another painkiller that can be used to treat back pain, but you should avoid taking NSAIDs if you’re already taking aspirin.



NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that block the body’s production of chemicals which are produced when there’s a strain or injury, and causes pain. Do not take these if you’re pregnant.

Common anti-inflammatory drugs are naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, etc. These relieve back pain that arises from arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, musculoskeletal issues, etc.

Whenever there’s back pain, there’s a high chance that the joints and soft tissues surrounding the affected area are inflamed. By using anti-inflammation medication, you’ll be able to soothe these areas and reduce the pain.

 Muscle relaxants

Tight muscles in your back can cause back pain too. Usually poor posture over prolonged periods can strain your muscles and cause them to get tight. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants to help your body relax and ease the pain.

Different types of muscle relaxants have different degrees of efficacy. Your doctor will prescribe you one that is most suitable for your pain. These muscle relaxants may make you drowsy, and stronger types like valium can actually be a depressant and should be avoided by people with depression.

Commonly prescribed muscle relaxants are Valium, Flexeril, Metaxolone, Carisoprodol, Cyclobenzaprine, etc.

 Drugs to improve bone density

These are best used to treat patients with back pain related to osteoporosis or weak bones. While calcium supplements are effective, your doctor may prescribe tamoxifen or raloxifene. These drugs will improve your bone density and reduce your risk of vertebral fractures due to weak bones.

When combined with drugs such as calcitonin and risedronate, the absorption of the bone is improved, and bone density increases.

These are just some of the drugs used to combat back pain. You should speak to your doctor or do your own research online so that you’re well-informed on the topic. Always consult your doctor before taking any medication.

You need to know if you’re allergic or if the medication you take will ‘clash’ with other medications you’re taking. Not all medications play well with each other. So, to stay away from complications and ill-effects, it’s best to approach all medication with caution.


If, like me you have had Fibromyalgia for some time now you will probably have been given an antidepressant to try for the pain, or maybe even tried a mixture of these type of medications.

If you read all the information on the drug it could immediately put you off trying one but I’ve always felt you should always try before you decide if you want to stay on this type of meditation long term.

I will use my own personal usage of these as an example. Back in 2002 when I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia I was put onto ‘Fluexetine (Prozac)’ of 20 mg once a day. I seemed to get along well with this during the early years but it wasn’t long before they also offered me Amitryptyline (Elavil) of 10mg x 3 going up to 50mg, which I took alongside my Fluexetine.

I stayed on both these for a number of years but as I increased the Amitryptyline, it left me with one particular side effect of a very dry mouth. I mean really dry whereby I would sometimes struggle to get my words out and I also started having problems with my gums. My dentist suggested eating sugar free gum but to be honest with you I’m just not a lover of gum.

The pain team decided to then change me from Amitryptyline to Nortryptyline (Pamelor) as it was known to not cause as many side effects and could help me sleep better at night which was another symptom of Fibromyalgia that I was suffering from. The dosage was the same dosage as the Amitryptyline.

Fast forward 16 years and this year I was also advised to come off the Fluexetine as I had been on it for so long. They told me to come off it gradually and to see how I felt. I did exactly as they said and even though I was only taking 20mg I struggled so hard not just because I’m in more pain but from feeling extremely low and tearful, which isn’t me.

So, I decided I would go back onto Fluexetine (it’s still on my repeat) but it made me realise how you really can get addicted to these types of medications and that maybe someone should have suggested I tried to come off it a long time ago. I’ve never shied away from taking any medications they have offered me for pain relief and believe you really do have to take them for a few months to see any difference but it is also important that long term use should be taken into consideration.

On the website My Fibro Team they have a page on all the medications offered for Fibromyalgia and its overview of the three I have mentioned are – ‘Nortryptyline Pamelor is a prescription medication originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1964 for the treatment of depression. In cases of fibromyalgia, Pamelor can help reduce pain. The drug name of Pamelor is Nortriptyline.

Pamelor should be used with caution in people with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or glaucoma. People who are recovering from a recent myocardial infarction (heart attack) should not take Pamelor.

Pamelor is a tricyclic antidepressant. It is believed that Pamelor works in cases of fibromyalgia by changing the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.’

And ‘Amitryptyline Elavil is a prescription medication originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1961 for the treatment of depression. The drug name of Elavil is Amitriptyline. In cases of fibromyalgia, Elavil can reduce pain and improve sleep problems and fatigue.

Elavil should be used with caution in people with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, glaucoma, liver or kidney problems, high or low blood pressure, diabetes, seizures, trouble urinating, or alcohol dependence. Elavil is not suitable for use by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. 

Elavil is a tricyclic antidepressant. It is believed that Elavil works in cases of fibromyalgia by interfering with nerve signals that communicate pain.

And as for Fluexetine- Prozac is a prescription drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987 to treat depression. In people with fibromyalgia, Prozac can help improve mood and reduce fatigue. Prozac may also help reduce pain, sleep problems, and fatigue. Prozac is also known by its drug name, Fluoxetine hydrochloride.

Prozac should be used with caution in people who have a history of depression, seizures, anorexia, glaucoma, and heart problems, as well as those who are taking diuretics.

Prozac is an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) class. Prozac is believed to work by changing the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. 

The My Fibro Team website has lots more information on medications taken for Fibromyalgia and is well worth reading if you are trying something new. Do you take any of these medications and if you have did they help with your pain?


Depression is quite common with people suffering from chronic pain. I mean who wouldn’t feel a bit low when trying to cope with constant pain but there is help out there to deal with this type of depression. Research shows that some of these antidepressants may help with some kinds of long-lasting pain.

Web MD state that Doctors don’t know exactly why antidepressants help with pain. They may affect chemicals in your spinal cord — you may hear them called neurotransmitters — that send pain signals to your brain. 

It’s important to note that antidepressantsdon’t work on pain right away. It can be a week or so before you feel any better. In fact, you may not get their full effect for several weeks.

After my second spinal surgery I was put on a very low dose of an antidepressant which I took over a period of 20+years. I am still on this antidepressant ( Prozac) even though over the many years I haven taken it there have been numerous articles on the pros and cons of taking it for so long. In fact, only last year the Professor of Medicine whom I call my Medicine Man who I see on a regular basis, suggested that maybe I should stop taking it.

I started with reducing it to one every other day and had no ill effects except that I wasn’t feeling as perky as I usually am. I put it down to the fact that at that time last year I ways constantly going back and forth to stay at my Dads so that I could go and be with him in hospital. He was in three months and my sister and I would do three week shifts of going in for most of the day over a period of three weeks then coming home for a rest. Sadly Dad passed away in hospital by which stage I had already started increasing my drug to nearly what I had been on before as I had an even bigger reason for feeling low.

On the NHS website they say that even though a type of antidepressant called tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) weren’t originally designed to be painkillers, there’s evidence to suggest they’re effective in treating chronic (long-term) nerve pain in some people.

Chronic nerve pain, also known as neuropathic pain, is caused by nerve damage or other problems with the nerves, and is often unresponsive to regular painkillers, such as paracetamol.

Amitriptyline is a TCA that’s usually used to treat neuropathic pain. I also take this for my neuropathic pain and it also helps me to sleep better.

We are all different and try to deal with chronic pain, stress and even loss in different ways but for me personally I felt this one little pill I took every morning worked for me. When I went back for my review with my Medicine Man I told him what I had been through and said I felt for me personally it was one drug I would like to continue taking indefinitely if he felt that was safe. He said that every single person will have different views and reactions to different types of antidepressants but if I had found one that I truly felt helped me ‘feel good’ every day no matter what I was going through then he was happy for me to take it indefinitely.

I know there are lots and lots of alternative things to try for any type of depression from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to Group Therapy and much more but I do feel that some people are nervous of taking medication on a long term basis but if that works for you, then why not.

Try everything that is available to you and when you find something that works for you then stick with it even it is taking a daily dose of medication. Feeling low and depressed is awful and most people in chronic pain must feel that at some stage but life really is to short to feel that way on a daily basis so why not try something just for you to help you feel better on the outside even if the pain on the inside is still there.

Some great websites and organisations that can help with chronic pain and depression are Away With Pain.

BLB Solicitors have a long list with links to UK support and help with depression from pain. The NHS also has details on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the UK and how to find a therapist.


Can herbal remedies for pain work as well as traditional medication? Every day you will read something online or in a paper or magazine about different side-effects, addictions and problems with certain medications but they all seem to be ones that people have to take long term.

In a previous post, I wrote about how I am seeing what I called a medicine man (a professor of medicine) as I have been on the same medication for a long time and as I can no longer have facet joint injections my pain has been much worse.

They say that normally side effects from a medication will happen in the first month of you taking them and vary from one person to another. In fact, the NHS writes that ‘All medicines can cause side effects, particularly if you don’t use them as advised. This includes prescription medicines, medicines you can buy over the counter, and herbal remedies and supplements.

Side effects can range from mild, such as drowsiness or feeling sick (nausea), to severe, such as life-threatening conditions, although these are rare. The risk of getting side effects varies from person to person.

You should check the leaflet that is provided with your medication to see if certain side effects could make it unsafe for you to drive or operate machinery’

So, unless it is something life-threatening it appears that whatever medication you take be it herbal or traditional the chances are it will have some form of side effect.  If these side effects are something that you can live with and the medication is helping you then the chances are you will carry on taking it. Of course you can then end up taking more medication to help with your side effects. However, if you are in constant pain from any illness then whatever the side effects you will still take it to relieve your pain.

Another problem is the addiction to these drugs which seem to pop up on the media when it affects celebrities rather than jo public. Web MD point out that ‘It also plagues many people out of the spotlight who grapple with painkiller addiction behind closed doors.

But although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also widely misunderstood — and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and frightening for patients dealing with pain.

Where is the line between appropriate use and addiction to prescription pain medicines? And how can patients stay on the right side of that line, without suffering needlessly?

For answers, WebMD spoke with two pain medicine doctors, an expert from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and a psychiatrist who treats addictions.’

Read here their seven myths they identified about addiction to prescription pain medication.

The NHS list of seven of the most addictive pain killers –

  1. Paracetamol
  2. Ibuprofen
  3. Aspirin
  4. Codeine
  5. Soluble painkillers
  6. Amitriptyline and gabapentin
  7. Morphine

A article in Good Housekeeping lists four reasons when painkillers really are your friend –

1. Some people say they want to see how the pain is, or don’t want to be knocked out, or to get addicted. Painkillers won’t deal with the fundamental problem, but lessening pain will allow you to get on with life. Taken safely and sensibly, there’s no reason to suffer stoically.

2. Take the lowest dose of the mildest painkiller, usually ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol. Read the instructions: if the standard adult dose is two tablets, and you just take one, it’s not going to do much good.

3. You probably know which painkillers suit you. But if you need an anti-inflammatory – for joint pain, sporting injuries – aspirin and ibuprofen work best.

4. Rather than stepping up the dosage or a stronger painkiller, it may be a good idea to combine a normal dose of two. Speak to your pharmacist for advice. An example is paracetamol plus ibuprofen.

But remember…

Painkiller addiction tends to occur with codeine type painkillers. eg codeine, cocodamol, tramadol, solpadeine, as well as the gabapentin type drugs (GABA). GPs see a huge number of people with medication overuse headache, which is caused by painkillers. Signs of addiction might include: you’re at the doctor well before your prescription runs out, you take painkillers routinely rather than waiting for pain, you feel unwell if you don’t take them, you feel panicky if you don’t have a supply, you take them privately or secretly. If you’re worried, see your GP. It’s very important to be weaned off painkillers properly.

The NHS has a list of ten ways to reduce pain without medication –

  1. Get some gentle exercise
  2. Breathe right to ease pain
  3. Read books and leaflets on pain
  4. Counselling can help with pain
  5. Distract yourself
  6. Share your story about pain
  7. The sleep cure for pain
  8. Take a course
  9. Keep in touch with friends and family
  10. Relax to beat pain

At the end of the day we will all try different ways to manage and cope with long term/chronic pain, it’s getting the right balance which is the most important either using conservative methods, herbal or traditional medication. I personally have tried a number of herbal medications that have been in the news recently but they made no difference to me and yet worked wonders for a friend with a hip problem.

Whatever you try you should first see your GP and go through all the options available and don’t give up after a couple of doses just because of the side effects, give the treatment time to work and you never know you might find a concoction of medications/treatments will work great for you.



DRUGSTARS ‘ Giving by Taking’,  hopes to become the largest patient movement in the world. A movement of patients who give to others just by taking their meds as prescribed. A movement of patients who share their experiences and perspectives with regard to their medicines, so that this knowledge can be used to improve treatments. The ambition is to make you proud of taking your meds the right way – a real DrugStar.

All you have to do is register the meds you take, and, by taking your meds as prescribed by your doctor, you will be awarded stars. You can also earn stars by reviewing your meds, by signing up for trials or by referring other patients to join DrugStars. You can then donate your stars to a patient organization of your choice. Also, by making a donation of 50 stars to a patient organization, you qualify for a health voucher of your choice in their app, which you can use either online or in a real shop.

Healthcare companies convert stars to money as part of their corporate social responsibility campaigns. DrugStars.com is managing the contributions to match specific diseases or just all types of DrugStars users. Based in the USA and Denmark, the DrugStars team have many years of combined international experience in research, development and communication around medical treatment. They are fully committed to data privacy and protection and to making sure insights are applied to benefit our users and the wider patient community. It was founded by Claus Møldrup, who holds a PhD in pharmacy and previously worked as a professor of social pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen. The DrugStars app was launched in Denmark in January 2017. It is now in the United States and the United Kingdom and is available for Apple and Android.

The free app is easy to download then simply wait for your email as confirmation then start adding your meds to your personal list. If your medication does not come up with the correct milligram then just list the medication your take. Every time you take your medication click on the ‘pill’ link and if you review your drug then take a picture of the medication to ensure your review is real.

For me personally, I just love that it gives to charity but I have not got involved with the push notifications as I feel I have enough messages coming through on my phone. I am very good at taking my meds so it’s easy for me to just press the link when I am done. It’s a great idea and I look forward to collecting enough stars to help a charity out. I will write another review when I reach that stage.