The other day I was moving around some stuff. While doing so, I had to lift a heavy box and place it on a higher shelf. I bent down, grabbed the box and as soon as I lifted the box, a sharp pain traveled through my back. By that time I knew that it’s going to cause a lot of trouble for the next couple of days.
Haven’t we all experienced such incidents? The pain lingered on for more time than I had hoped it would. It made the simplest of tasks such as getting off the bed, sitting on a chair and even turning around an ordeal for me. This is one scenario which all of us have witnessed at some point in time.
But in the case of older people, the reasons are entirely different. The core reason is the weakening of muscles and the declining muscle density. The pain could be the result of osteoarthritis. It is a degenerative joint disease wherein the protective cartilage guarding the bones wears off with time thereby causing the bones at joints to rub together. This results in stiffness and pain. It is one of the main causes of upper back pain during old age; however, this condition can develop in young adults as well. It affects the spine resulting in a pain in the neck and lower back portion.
WHEN TO SEE A DOCTOR
When in pain, people tend to consult every Tom, Dick, and Harry in the hope of getting a cure that would relieve them of the pain. They suggest home remedies or odd beliefs in some methods that more often than not result in complicating the situation. In such a case, people delay taking professional medical help.
This should be avoided especially if the pain is consistent and severe. Your doctor will ask you to talk in detail about the incident that led to the development of pain. It would help in pinpointing the exact reason and help diagnose better. The assessment also helps in taking note of any serious causes of back pain, if any. Then the doctor can prescribe you medicine and can also ask you to take up some first-line treatments such as physiotherapy, massage or yoga.
Various methods for diagnosis are:
- X-Ray: Taking an X-ray of the area where the pain persists is the first thing that the doctor would ask for. I would help in detecting whether the cause of the pain is a broken bone or not. It can also help diagnose whether the arthritis is the source of pain or not.
- MRI Scan or CT Scan: It is another imaging test to detect soft tissue damage or disc damage. It is specifically used to investigate problems in one’s spine. Your doctor may suggest you get your back scanned.
- Bone Scan: To check the presence of any tumor, bone scans can be referred by doctors. It can also detect any compressional fractures due to conditions such as osteoporosis.
- Blood Test: Infection in the spine could be a reason for pain in your back. To get hold of the source of pain, a blood test can help determine the infected area and then give the treatment accordingly.
BACK PAIN MEDICATION OVER THE COUNTER
It comes under the category of NSAIDs (NonSteroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs). It is one of the most potent and highly recommended drugs to treat back pain. This painkiller is an over the counter drug to relieve back pain but can be taken in higher quantity on the basis dosage prescribed. It reduces pain and inflammation in muscles. It is effective in case fever accompanies pain as it cures the fever as well.
Being an over the counter drug, its usage is prone to abuse. This can lead to some side effects such as ulcers, internal bleeding, stomach ache, and can inflict a great deal of damage to the kidneys.
It is a controversial drug, to begin with. Its potency is proved in the short term, but it is not advised to take this drug as a means of relieving pain over a longer period as it has a euphoric effect that can make one get addicted to it. Acetaminophen/ hydrocodone combination (Vicodin) and Oxycodone (OxyContin) are two variants of opioids. Very low to moderate quantity of this drug has proved effective.
Opioids are painkillers that affect the CNS ( Central Nervous System) rendering it numb and unresponsive to pain. As soon as its effect starts waning away, the need to administer another dosage arises. It is here that it becomes problematic. Taking it for short-term can relieve pain while its consistent, unbridled use can become an addiction from which has engulfed Americans since the past twenty years.
It is an over the counter drug and is of two types- Naproxen Sodium and Regular Naproxen. It is used to overcome pain and reduce inflammation caused because of a variety of conditions such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile arthritis, etc. These are the conditions which result in severe pain and discomfort. To relieve pain, Naproxen can be administered to the patient. This drug too comes under Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Although it is an over the counter drug, its abuse can result in side-effects such as constipation/diarrhea, flatulence, dizziness, swelling of face or throat, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, etc. Like everything else, an excess of drugs is bad and may turn lethal if not contained. It should also be kept in mind that it should not be taken along with other medicines as it may react with them thereby producing disastrous results. It is best to take it as prescribed by the doctor.
Another pain reliever in the list of lower back pain relief products is Acetaminophen. It is an oral medicine but is also available as shots (vaccine) and in solution form. It is used to relieve mild to moderate pain and also works on fever or cold that may accompany back pain.
It is an over the counter back pain medication, but your doctor may prescribe the dosage according to the patient’s condition. It is important, as with other drugs, to avoid using this drug with other drugs as it can have an adverse impact on your health. To avoid any complications, use it as per the doctor’s prescription.
Used to relieve moderate to severe pain, this drug is a combination medication containing hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is an opioid pain reliever whereas acetaminophen is a non-opioid pain reliever. The former helps to manipulate the brain’s response to pain and the latter tackles the fever that the pain accompanies. It should be noted that it is a prescription drug and is prohibited for use in children below the age of six years.
Since it affects the CNS, it is advised that the patient avoids any manual work or any work that is risky and requires alertness of brain such as driving, operating machines, etc. It induces drowsiness and dizziness. Its overdose has even more serious implications such as passing out, hallucinations and can also induce a coma. In case of any such side effects, consult the doctor right away.
These are the five most effective drugs on the chronic back pain medication list. Proper care and awareness should be there while taking these drugs as they come with their share of side effects.
These drugs alone aren’t enough to tackle pain. Along with them, lifestyle changes and first-line treatments need to be taken.
FIRST LINE TREATMENTS- OUR GUIDE TO HOLISTIC WELLNESS
Along with drugs, first line treatments should be taken for speedy recovery.
Exercise: Out of all the methods, this is the most effective if done regularly. The aim should not just be to relieve one from pain but attain holistic wellness. Our machine-like the body needs to be given a shake once a day so that it functions smoothly.
Yoga: It has emerged as one of the most effective methods of maintaining health. The reason for its popularity is the results that it yields when done on a regular basis. It keeps the body agile and flexible and cures of numerous health conditions.
Physiotherapy: It is recommended by the doctors in case of mild to moderate issues related to muscles. With professional assistance, it works precisely on the areas it is meant to heal. It is immensely helpful in back pain issues and issues related to the spine. Physiotherapy techniques such as muscle stretching and joint mobilization are highly effective.
Massage: Soft tissue massage can relieve one of pain by targeting sore and stiff muscles, tendons and ligaments. The duration and pressure when applied right to relax the joints and muscles that cause soreness.
Acupuncture: It can be an effective tool for treating chronic back pain. This Chinese therapy makes use of inserting needles at certain points in the body. The Chinese concept of Qi (energy) is at the core of this treatment. The imbalance of Qi results in various ailments and this method is used to restore the balance.
Apart from old-age, back pain issue arising due to any other reason can be avoided by mending your lifestyle- exercise more and eat healthily. It is the ultimate guide to live a healthy, happy, disease-free life.