Whether you’re a weekend warrior who zigged when you should have zagged or are simply prone to waking up with neck or back pain, the name of the game is finding quick relief from discomfort. The first step is always rest, and for most of us a trip to the medicine cabinet or drug store. On your own, your options are a wide array of over-the-counter medications, and if they don’t eliminate pain there’s a good chance your next step is a call to your doctor, who may prescribe something stronger.
Taking medications can provide effective and lasting benefits, but that is not always the case. Understanding how each of these works can help guide your decisions. If they don’t work, your next step should be making an appointment with a lumbar or cervical spine specialist in New Jersey to have your problem diagnosed and identify a solution.
Tylenol (Acetaminophen) – This drug is one of the most common and familiar non-aspirin pain relievers. It is best known for relieving headaches and fever, but it is also used to treat aches and pains. It does not address swelling. Concerns: Taking too much can be harmful to the liver
Aspirin, Aleve, and Motrin/Advil (Aspirin, Naproxen, Ibuprofen) – These are all referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. They are specifically used to provide relief from pain caused by inflammation, as well as to lower fever. They are commonly suggested for the treatment of arthritis and injury. Concerns: Taking too much or on an empty stomach can lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. These drugs can also lead to complications for those with kidney disease or high blood pressure, and should not be provided to children.
Vioxx, Celebrex (COX-2 Inhibitors) – This type of prescription medication is designed to block a substance that causes inflammation. They were designed to do the same thing that NSAIDs do, but without the concerns regarding gastrointestinal bleeding. Concerns: The drugs have side effects that can lead to heart attack or stroke, so risks should be discussed with your physician before taking them.
Oxycontin, Darvon, Vicodin, Dilaudid, Demorol, Lomotil (Narcotics) – Though these medications are extremely powerful, and may provide relief, they are to be used with great caution as they carry the potential for abuse and addiction.
When considering the use of medications for pain relief, it is important to remember that they do not heal an injury: they simply mask the painful symptoms. If your condition is of short duration, they may provide an answer but if you have a more enduring injury or degenerative condition, then the best solution is likely to seek treatment from an experienced lumbar and cervical spine specialist in New Jersey. If your pain is new and you would like to take a few days it’s fine to see if it resolves with the help of rest, ice or heat, and some over-the-counter medications. If it doesn’t go away in a day or two, contact our office to set up an appointment.