Recent reviews of common medications intended to alleviate back pain suggest that not only are they largely ineffective, but they also might cause gastrointestinal issues.
examined nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including
aspirin, Advil and Aleve, while an earlier study considered the
effects of Tylenol (acetaminophen). Both concluded that none of the
medications are particularly effective for back pain. The researchers
said roughly one of six people taking an NSAID might benefit from it.
"Patients should discuss with their doctors whether they
should take these drugs, considering the small benefits they offer
and likelihood of adverse effects," Gustavo Machado,
author of the NSAID review, said. Machado is a
research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney,
Machado said that people who took NSAIDs were also more than twice
as likely to suffer from gastrointestinal side effects than those
who took inactive placebos.
Dr. Benjamin Friedman, an associate professor of emergency
medicine at New York’s Albert Einstein College of
Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, said that even though
he recommends the medications, they might be even more
ineffective than the review suggests. He said other methods to alleviate back pain
might be more beneficial.
"The happiest back pain patients I know are the ones who
have found relief with some type of complementary therapy such as
yoga, massage or stretching,” Friedman said.
Little support for common painkillers to ease backache