Medication and Treatment of Acute Low Back Pain

back pain medication

In This Article


Pain is generally the chief complaint of individuals presenting with disorders of the low back. Treatment, often, initially addresses local pain and inflammation before proceeding to further intervention and therapeutic exercise. Pain, however, should be regarded as a component of a symptom complex resulting from an underlying pathological process affecting the low back. The clinician caring for the back pain patient should strive to establish a diagnosis. which includes an identification of the causative disorder.

An understanding of functional anatomy, biomechanics and kinesiology (study of body movement) can help in localizing the patient's pain generators which include the bone, disc, tendon, muscle, ligament, and nerve. The underlying process can be biomechanical, inflammatory or infectious, neoplastic (i.e. tumor), or psychological in nature.

The answers to these questions will guide the physician

toward the proper initial treatment of the low back problem, including the most appropriate choice of medications prescribed. By applying the principles of medication use in other musculoskeletal disorders, we can more strategically plan an efficacious use of pharmacological agents.

Other Articles in This Acute Low Back Pain Treatments Series

In this article, several classes of commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of low back pain will be considered. For each agent or group of agents considered, mechanisms of action, efficacy and current clinical research, dosing and cost, and complications and contraindications will be discussed.

View Sources

  • Malanga GA, et al. Pharmacologic Treatment of Low Back Pain. In Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation State of the Art Reviews, Philadelphia, Hanley and Belfus Vol.13, No.3, October, 1999

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