What role does medication play in the treatment of non-specific back pain?
Painkillers are only recommended in addition to active treatments such as exercises and movement – for example, to relieve severe back pain or to help you start moving more again. Because of the associated risks, though, they shouldn't be used over a long period of time.
Low back pain usually goes away on its own after a while. In most cases it's not clear what's causing the pain. It is then called "non-specific" back pain. If low back pain lasts a long time or keeps returning, it is often difficult to treat. Good-quality studies have so far found that only few treatments help. Staying active and moving enough are among the most effective things you can do yourself.
The medications used include over-the-counter and prescription painkillers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants. Because medication can have side effects – especially when taken over longer periods of time – it shouldn't be taken continuously, but rather only for a short while, for example when the pain is especially severe. What's more, painkillers only have a limited effect in the treatment of non-specific low back pain.