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Pain Relief Medications

Medications play an effective role in the treatment of back or neck pain. Your doctor may prescribe several medications to help reduce pain and associated symptoms that are caused by unhealthy spinal conditions or deformities.

When healthcare professionals prescribe a pain medication regimen, the precise needs of the patient are considered including severity of the pain, length of time with pain and medical history of the individual. The main goal of prescribing medications is to reduce the patient’s pain and increase their comfort level while reducing adverse side effects and the danger of misuse or abuse of the medications.

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers are medications available without a doctor's prescription. They include acetaminophen, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and topical pain relievers.

Alternately, your physician may recommend short term use of opioids or narcotic medications for pain relief. Your doctor will discuss all available options based on your particular situation.


Opioids refer to a group of narcotic painkiller medications which are either obtained from opium or are derived synthetically. This group of drugs includes heroin, morphine, codeine, methadone and oxycodone. Opioids were traditionally prescribed to treat primarily cancer pain, post-operative pain or acute pain following an accident.

Since the 1990’s however, opioid prescriptions to treat chronic pain conditions including back pain has greatly increased.

Opioid narcotic administration can have serious side effects if not taken correctly including possible toxicity to the body, physical dependence, and the loss of efficacy due to developmental tolerance and psychological dependence or addiction.

Opioid therapy should be considered as a last treatment option in cases of unrelieved pain despite alternative medications (non-opioid drugs). Patients should be informed regarding the side effects of opioids and suggested to follow-up with their doctor regularly. Monthly appointments should be scheduled to assess the dose of the drug until the patient experiences partial or complete relief of pain.