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.



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.


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?


What are some of the most used medications to take for fibromyalgia?  According to Consumer Reports and Web MD the most popular medications are antidepressants, anti-seizure, muscle relaxants and over the counter pain relievers.

An article in Consumer Reports says that Experts say the best, overall strategy includes medications and nondrug therapies, such as exercise, counseling, and stress relief. The popular medications include antidepressants (amitriptyline, nortriptyline, fluoxetine, paroxetine, duloxetine, milnacipran), a few anti-seizure medications (gabapentin, pregabalin), and a muscle relaxant (cyclobenzaprine). But studies show that the benefits of these medications are generally small. There is no clear evidence that one drug is better than another, and all of them probably lose their benefit over time.

Web MD says that popular medication include antidepressants, serotonin, and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), muscle relaxants and include


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.