NSAIDs: Why This Widely Prescribed Medication Won’t Cure Your Back Pain Problem
By Steve Hefferon, CMT, PTA, CPRS
Why are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) the most prescribed medication for back pain? Simple. They help you make it through the day by taking the edge off. They make you feel better, or at least they help you forget about the pain. Despite their popularity, NSAIDs can keep you in a vicious cycle of pain.
It is true that NSAIDs help with pain and inflammation. It is also true that you will feel better if you take them. But the question to ask is this: Are you getting better? In an acute muscle strain situation, the answer is maybe. For sub-acute or chronic back pain, neck pain, or sciatica conditions, the answer is most likely no.
You see, regardless of the type of back pain condition you are suffering from, it is a physical problem, meaning it has to do with the strength and flexibility of your muscles, the position of your bones, and how precisely your joints work.
Let me be more specific: If the muscles in the front of your legs are much stronger than the muscles in the back of your legs, your pelvis will be pulled out of its normal position, eventually causing your spine to go into abnormal curvature. This is an underlying factor in just about all back pain conditions that are symptomatic. It’s probably how your problem got started. This process may take many years to happen, but once it begins, it will progress until it becomes a chronic condition.
No NSAID can make a muscle stronger or more flexible. More importantly, NSAIDs cannot create balance between the muscle groups or cause a joint to function properly. So, if you simply opt for relief from pain, your body will just continue the debilitating process of getting older much faster.
Now that you know that NSAIDs will not address your underlying problem, you should also know about the WARNING the drug companies have to give you about these products. It is important information. The Food and Drug Administration has asked the manufactures to update the warning on the package to let customers know that serious cardiac conditions and intestinal problems can occur – and that these can lead to death. Nice!
If you are taking NSAIDs – and especially if you have been taking them for an extended period of time – you should be aware that these medications put a heavy strain on your kidneys and liver. You and you doctor should discuss appropriate precautions, such as having your liver enzymes tested to make sure that your liver is not being overtaxed.
So, if you start to experience any of the side effects that are described on the box, be sure to contact your physician ASAP. I also strongly suggest that you seek a qualified health care provider to help you address the underlying causes of your back pain.
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Updated: May 16,2011