How Acute and Chronic Back Pain are Managed

There are ways to make sure that the medication prescribed to a patient is appropriate and adequate to control their level of pain. Physicians must try and look at the individual’s unique situation and circumstances when making a decision of what medication needs to be prescribed.

Acute and Chronic Back PainTaking the example of back pain, for instance, when such a situation is allowed to go unattended or not managed appropriately enough then patients may develop complications such as:

  • A suppressed immune system resulting in a delay in the healing process.
  • Affected sleeping patterns.
  • Increased anxiety which may lead to mental health conditions such as depression.

Back pain can be managed with the use of acute and chronic back pain medication, depending on the duration of their use, and include the following drugs and their routes of administration:

  • Oral pain medication that can be taken in a pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form. Examples of such medications include acetaminophen, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and the narcotic medications such as codeine. The first two classes are available as over-the-counter medications, but the narcotic medications need to be prescribed by a doctor.
  • Topically applied medications that are rubbed directly onto the skin usually include anti-inflammatory medications that penetrate the skin and reduce inflammation affecting muscles. Other preparations include local anesthetics to help numb the skin and are used for conditions such as shingles that causes severe nerve pain. Muscle relaxant medication can also be topically applied and they work directly on the brain to help reduce spasms in muscles that suddenly tighten up.
  • Injectable medications can be administered in various ways to the affected individual. Anti-inflammatory medications can be administered into the muscle directly (intramuscularly) and into the bloodstream through a vein (intravenously). Steroids and local anesthetic agents can be injected intravenously, depending on the patient’s needs, or even into the epidural space around the spinal cord to offer pain relief in patients with spinal pathologies.

Physicians are also looking into non-pharmacological ways to manage back pain and this has come about due to the problem we are facing today with the abuse and addiction rates to narcotic pain medications such as codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and even fentanyl.

The following are measure incorporated by healthcare professionals and hospitals to help reduce pain in patients without having to rely heavily on narcotic drugs:

  • Massage therapy – this method is most probably the most successful non-pharmacological therapy to help reduce pain. Muscle tension is reduced with manipulation of the affected muscles through various methods and this helps to reduce pain associated with cramps and spasms.1
  • Traction – this method has been noted to help with conditions such as disc herniation and gapping of facet joints. This method includes passive stretching and isn’t as bad as it sounds.
  • Sound therapy – an emergency department at a New Jersey hospital uses harpists to play music and this has been proven to be an effective non-pharmacological form of therapy to help reduce pain by decreasing tension and anxiety. This is part of a program initiated to help try and avoid the use of narcotic medications for certain conditions.