Medications for Back Pain: NSAIDs, Opioids, Anti-Depressants and Supplements

Chris Regal | June 8, 2012

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Supplements do not require FDA approval.
  1. 1 True
  2. 0 False
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True. The biggest difference between a medication and a supplement is FDA approval; generally treatments that are categorized as supplements do not need FDA approval before hitting the market.  However, because of that, there is a risk for harmful side effects. That said, some effective supplements include white willow bark, bromelain, Boswellia, and warfarin. 

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  1. Supplements do not require FDA approval.

    Correct Answer: True

    True. The biggest difference between a medication and a supplement is FDA approval; generally treatments that are categorized as supplements do not need FDA approval before hitting the market.  However, because of that, there is a risk for harmful side effects. That said, some effective supplements include white willow bark, bromelain, Boswellia, and warfarin. 

  2. Muscle relaxants used for back pain include Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin.

    Correct Answer: False

    False. Oxycontin, Percocet, and Vicodin are examples of opioids, synthetic narcotics that are pain relievers for the central nervous system. 

  3. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a safe and effective pain reliever for acute back pain.

    Correct Answer: True

    True. The benefits of the drug are usually felt 30 to 60 minutes after ingesting the medication and the benefits last for several hours.  It is available over the counter and is effective in treating mild back pain. 

  4. Ibuprofen can be prescribed both over-the-counter and via a doctor prescription.

    Correct Answer: True

    True. Ibuprofen is a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to treat back pain.  Several over-the-counter drugs are available, including aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). NSAIDs can also be prescribed, including ibuprofen, naproxen, flurbiprofen (Ansaid), diclofenac (Voltaren), and tolmetin (Tolectin), among others. 

  5. Long-term use of NSAIDs does not carry significant health risks. In fact, it is recommended for heart health.

    Correct Answer: False

    False. The FDA has issued "black box" warnings for risks including heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and dyspepsia (burning bloating feeling in the bit of the stomach). Other side effects may include drowsiness, skin bruising, high blood pressure, headache, living damage, and rash. 

  6. Oxymorphone (Numorphan) is an alternative to opioid drugs. It is not as addictive as opioids, not does it cause the gastrointestinal issues of NSAIDs.

    Correct Answer: False

    False. Tramadol (Ultram) is the alternative to opioids.  Oxymorphone is an opioid itself. 

  7. Antidepressants can only be used for back pain relief by people who are depressed.

    Correct Answer: False

    False. Antidepressants may lessen the severity of pain in some patients with chronic back pain.  Antidepressants called trcyclics may be effective painkillers in non-depressed people. 

  8. Corticosteroids injections work for back pain by building muscle around impinged nerves, creating a more stable joint.

    Correct Answer: False

    False. Corticosteroid injections treat back pain caused by a nerve impingement. The injection is placed as close to the affected nerve as possible, where the corticosteroid reduces the inflammation around the nerve. Corticosteroids are not the same as synthetic steroids.