Back pain affects millions of people worldwide, whether it's acute or chronic, lower middle or upper back pain. There can be multiple contributing factors, including stress and injury, and many people look to nonprescription drugs for short-term relief. There is no perfect drug to cure the problem, but it's important to consult a doctor and find the best treatment to help curb the pain.
Acetaminophen, Also Known as Tylenol
Acetaminophen is most likely the most effective nonprescription medication for back pain, according to "Medications for Back Pain and Neck Pain" by Peter F. Ullrich, Jr., M.D. Tylenol is the most well-known brand of acetaminophen.
Acetaminophen relieves pain by targeting the brain's pain receptors. It also has few side effects, as opposed to some pain relievers, which can upset the stomach or cause addiction. Make sure to only take the recommended dosage, as high dosages can lead to liver and kidney damage.
Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs
NSAIDs can be effective in treating back pain because they work to reduce inflammation. Depending on the patient's situation and diagnosis, different medications are recommended.
Some commonly prescribed medications are Ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Motrin) and Naproxen (e.g. Aleve), both of which work to reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen is often recommended for mild back pain and stiffness. Naproxen has a higher rate of gastrointestinal effects than Ibuprofen.
Take caution with these medications, as some can have effects on the stomach, blood and heart. It's best to consult with a physician and read the medications' warning labels.
Combining Two Medications
Some say that taking an anti-inflammatory drug is best done over a period of time to build the effect of the drug. Also, some doctors recommend taking acetaminophen and a NSAID at the same time to find better pain relief. Every drug has its advantages and its adverse effects, but ultimately NSAIDs and acetaminophen are the best two types of over the counter medication for back pain relief. Whether taken alone or together, these drugs will work to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.