Are you considered one of the 65 million Americans who are suffering from back pain? Little doubt you would like the fast cure – if there have been one. Unfortunately, none exists.
Although medication is just not the one treatment option, it might be essentially the most common – and frequently the least expensive. Actually heat, ice, massage, weight reduction, exercise, and physical therapy are useful modalities. They’re all value trying before resorting to a $3,000 MRI.
But for quick relief, what drugs work the perfect, cost the least, and have the fewest side-effects?
Classes of medicines which can be commonly used to treat back pain include: anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxers, pain medications, and topical treatments.
Of the anti-inflammatory drugs, there’s the non-steroidal group (NSAIDs) and the steroidal group. The NSAIDs work well, and might be used chronically or as needed.
Probably the most common side-effect of NSAIDs is stomach irritation. For this reason potential, Celebrex was developed, an NSAID-like cox-2 inhibitor that’s less prone to hassle the stomach or colon. However it is pricey. Self-pay patients can expect to pay about $137 for a month’s supply of 200 mg, or $85 for 100 mg at a reduction pharmacy. In case your income is below $45,000 and also you will not be a Medicare patient, chances are you’ll qualify for the Together Rx Access program for discounted drugs, available online or through your physician. You can too check online for coupons to offset your cost or your co-pay. If you might have insurance, this drug is prone to be a 2nd or third tier, requiring the next co-pay than generic drugs.
But most patients do not need sufficient stomach irritation to warrant the usage of Celebrex. In case you do have an issue taking anti-inflammatory drugs, a second option is to make use of a drugs to lower your stomach acid (for instance, generic Pepcid for $4), which can help you use a $4 NSAID. A few of these are over-the-counter, however it’s essential that you simply seek the advice of your doctor with questions of drug interactions and other side-effects.
One list of $4 generic NSAIDs includes: diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, indomethacin, meloxicam, and piroxicam. Check together with your local pharmacy and take their $4 list with you to your doctor. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. These are lower dose than prescription NSAIDs, but often all an individual must recuperate from a strained back.
The Wal-Mart $4 list also includes prednisone, dexamethasone, and methylprednisolone, three steroids that might be utilized in an acute situation.
Of the muscle relaxers, baclofen and cyclobenzaprine are quite inexpensive, often under $5. These are especially useful when your back muscles are tight, or for those who cannot sleep. Drowsiness is essentially the most common side-effect. Skelaxin currently comes only as a brand-name, and costs 20 times as much – or more! Currently, Skelaxin offers a printable coupon on the manufacturer’s website.
Straight pain medications are also useful. Tylenol (acetaminophen) provides sufficient relief for many individuals. It might probably often be used with an NSAID – but seek the advice of your doctor first. Excedrin is an example of a single pill that features each acetaminophen and an anti-inflammatory (aspirin).
The non-narcotic drug tramadol (generic Ultram) is kind of inexpensive (on some $4 lists) and may be very effective.
Topical preparations akin to the Flector patch or creams akin to Voltaren Gel are also effective but expensive. In case your doctor prescribes these, check online for a coupon. I’ve had patients who’ve found topical creams on the dollar stores that they claim work just as well. If it really works for you, go for it.
If none of those selections are effective for you, perhaps you require a short-term narcotic. Any back strain that persists beyond per week or so, especially if it’s getting worse, needs to be evaluated by a physician.
Do you have to get an MRI? Provided that your doctor believes your pain is atypical, or if it’s getting worse, or for those who cannot use your legs properly. An MRI doesn’t fix anything. It might probably show a slipped disc, or spinal stenosis, or cancer, or infections. But for the common Joe or weekend warrior who overdid it moving furniture, no x-rays are generally needed. In case your doctor orders a CAT scan or MRI right off the bat, ask why, and whether a round of conservative therapy won’t be appropriate first.
Copyright 2010 Cynthia J. Koelker, M.D.