OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATION FOR BACK PAIN AND FIBROMYALGIA…

This is a question that millions of back pain sufferers ask all the time. Is there any medication that works? The truth of the matter is that it all depends on the type of back pain that an individual has.

If the back pain is acute due to some injury, over-the-counter medication may be enough to relieve the symptoms while the body heals naturally. However, if you suffer from chronic back pain due to more serious issues such as degenerative disc disease or osteoporosis, the medication will only help to a minimal extent.

Medication is not the be-all and end-all of back pain treatment. You’d do well to lose excess weight, maintain a good posture, avoid sitting for long periods and even try out acupuncture or acupressure to help aid in the healing process.

The medication that you take will help to relieve the pain and discomfort so that you can exercise and improve your condition. Most over-the-counter medication will not only provide temporary pain relief, but will also relax your muscles and reduce swelling and inflammation while altering your perception of pain.

Holistic remedies are great, but when the pain is bad, there’s nothing like painkillers or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to bring fast relief. There’s nothing wrong with using these medications.

You’ll need to see what side effects you experience. They can vary from person to person. You may not even have any. You’ll only know when you try.

 

• Acetaminophen

Most over-the-counter types of medication contain paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen. These can be used to treat anything from headaches to fevers to back pain. It works by preventing the body from releasing pain chemicals. In this way the pain signals going to the brain are altered and you feel less pain.

While generally harmless, consuming these in the long run can lead to a toxic buildup within the body, and the liver may be affected.

 

• Opioids

Another type of medication that is used to treat back pain is opioids. Only a doctor can prescribe opioids because they’re much stronger drugs and usually used to treat chronic back pain.

The drugs work by increasing your tolerance to pain and reducing the body’s perception of pain. They’re similar to the acetaminophen, but on a much higher degree.

While opioids are powerful, in some cases, the back pain may be so bad that even though it’s mitigated, you can’t eradicate it. To make matters worse, the body develops a tolerance to opioids over time and they lose their effectiveness.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you use these painkillers as a temporary measure while you go about changing other aspects of your life to make the back pain more manageable. Maintaining a good posture and an ideal weight is far more beneficial to your back in the long run than any opioid or medication could be.

 

• NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs_ are extremely effective for pain treatment. In most cases of back pain, there will be accompanying inflammation of the soft tissues around the area. NSAIDs will reduce the inflammation and bring about much relief.

They’re more powerful than both acetaminophen and opioids. However, they do have side effects like nausea, indigestion, fatigue, etc.

At the end of the day, when it comes to medication for your back pain, it’s best to speak to a qualified doctor, and if possible, get a second opinion too. Use medication as one of several tools to treat your back pain. Don’t rely on it completely. As long as you adopt a multi-pronged approach to treating your back pain, you’ll find relief sooner and may even get rid of the pain totally.

DRUGS -V- BACK PAIN…

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.

 Painkillers

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

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.

ANTIDEPRESSANTS AS A TREATMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA…

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?

TOP TIPS ON HOW TO COOK WITHOUT BEING IN TO MUCH PAIN…

Coping with Fibromyalgia is hard enough for any of us but one of the biggest problems we face is cooking. It may sound stupid to others but to us its a chore that can leave us feeling exhausted and in pain.

Many of us find that we cannot stand for long periods of time so doing the vegetables or decorating a cake are painful for us.

The easiest way to get around these problems is to plan ahead for the week.

If you have some children or a partner at home that can help prepare some meals, then delegate the difficult jobs for them to do.

Concentrate on foods with multiple uses by making a stew that can last two meals, like a roast chicken, followed by a chicken salad or a chicken curry.

Crockpots can be a godsend in the winter for Fibromyalgia sufferers, just get help with your preparation of vegetables then pop it all in the pot and forget about it until its mealtime.

Try and have one afternoon where you could cook three or four meals in one hit, using left-overs to make soup or casseroles, and only cook when you are ‘in less pain or on a good day’. If your best time is in the morning then cook then, if it’s in the afternoon then cook then.

I get my husband to prepare all the vegetables for me and nearly always make two meals at one time. I love baking (one would never have known!) and keep all my ingredients in a basket which I can put on the table which enables me to sit down to bake.

It is a bit easier at this time of year as casseroles are ideal and you can get vegetable packs for those, just throw in a bit of garlic, a red wine stock pot and bobs your uncle.

Health Central say Why Stand When You Can Sit: The reason why cooking is so painful for most people is the prolonged periods of time standing and walking around. Try moving that cutting board to the table and chop while sitting. Try moving those green beans to the living room and snap while sitting or reclining. Remember to sit properly and get up properly when it is time to stand up.

Eating Well have six great tips on how to avoid back pain while cooking.

Get a supportive mat. Adding soft cushioning beneath your feet in the form of a foam or gel mat may make you more comfortable while slicing and dicing. Use a cookbook stand. Think about how much time you spend hunched over the countertop reading a cookbook. Store heavy items wisely. Quit crouching down low or getting on your tiptoes to reach for large, weighty items like the food processor, panini press, mixer, or bread machine. Be careful when bending. Whether you’re bending down to pick up a dropped carrot or your stand mixer, you want your legs to do the work of lifting, not your back. Speaking of workouts: Exercise your abs. Having a strong core will help keep your back strong, and finally, Take breaks. Often, cooking calls for a “hurry up and wait” approach. 

 

NEW REMOTE CONTROL ZAPPER FOR BACK PAIN…

A new type of remote control ‘pacemaker’ for back pain is being trialled in the UK. The matchbox-sized device sends electrical pulses to muscles around the spine to strengthen them. The idea according to The Daily Mail Health is that stronger muscles take the strain off the damaged spine and thus reduce pain.

Six out of ten patients responded to treatment and now, around 100 are taking part in a new, larger clinical trial in the UK and elsewhere. They say that there is more evidence that muscles play a major role in low back pain and one of the theories is that the brain tries to limit painful movement by reducing or blocking the nerve signals that activate muscles. This then aggravates the initial problem and the muscles become fragile from not being used and then cannot properly support the spine.

This new device is a less invasive surgical option for low back pain and is designed to replace the nerve signals blocked by the brain and stimulate the muscles to keep them strong. It consists of a battery and tiny electrodes and is implanted in the back just under the skin above the waistline, in an hour-long operation which is done under general anaesthetic.

The electrodes are attached to the dorsal nerves in the spinal cord that supply the muscles. Patients then use a remote control to activate the stimulation for 30 minutes a day. As the muscles around the spine are strengthened over time, the brain senses reactivation and again starts firing the nerve signals that activate the muscles and further stabilise the spine.

Recent results from earlier trials involving 53 patients showed that the device can be very effective. Improvements were seen in around 60 per cent and quality of life improved in 80 per cent. It’s certainly something I am personally going to keep my eye on for the future.