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Friday, October 23, 2015

Treating Back Pain With NSAIDs

Finding alternative forms of pain management is crucial in the fight to end the prescription opioid epidemic in America. All too often doctors prescribe opioids for minor ailments that could be treated with non narcotic analgesics. New research suggests that over the counter (OTC) nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide as much relief for lower back pain as opioids or a muscle relaxants, HealthDay reports. Researchers compared both prescription naproxen (Naprosyn) and OTC naproxen to Percocet (oxycodone with acetaminophen).

“Acute low back pain is a frustrating condition,” said lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Friedman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. “Adding the narcotics or muscle relaxants to naproxen therapy didn’t help pain or function any more than naproxen alone. Nearly 50 percent of patients were still suffering one week later and nearly 25 percent of the patients were still suffering three months later.” 

Dr. Friedman points out that there are currently no good treatments for acute lower back pain, according to the article. The findings show that prescription opioids are not always needed for treating back pain; many patients would be served better by taking NSAIDs, such as Aleve or Advil.

“This is another study to add to the pile that says narcotics are not appropriate to treat back pain,” said Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management in the department of anesthesiology-pain at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “Although fewer doctors are prescribing narcotic painkillers for back pain, many still do.” 

The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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