Types of Anti-Inflammatory Medication for Back Pain

Back pain is a problem that most people develop at some point in their life. Common reasons for back pain include poor posture or body mechanics, traumatic injuries and strenuous physical activities. These factors increase your risk for developing degenerative joints, insomnia, depression, stress and anxiety.

Chronic back pain often requires more than one therapeutic intervention. Anti-inflammatory medication is usually part of a comprehensive back pain relief protocol. These medications reduce inflammation and may enable you to resume many of your normal activities. Aspirin, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents are some of the most common examples.


Hippocrates was the first known physician to prescribe aspirin for pain. It has shown to relieve headaches, muscle pains, and other painful conditions.

Aspirin help reduce pain by preventing pain signals from reaching the thalamus. This area of the brain is involved in the perception of pain and serves as an information relay center.

Aspirin also alleviates pain by stopping a chemical chain reaction by blocking prostaglandin, a natural substance that makes your nerve cells more sensitive to pain and inflammation.

Prostaglandins also safeguard the stomach lining. This is why aspirin can cause stomach issues, such as bleeding, pain and ulcers.


Acetaminophen is frequently recommended for back pain relief. It is not an anti-inflammatory agent.

Acetaminophen relieves pain by altering the way that your body perceives the sensation by blocking the pain signals. The medication is frequently recommended for osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disorder.

Acetaminophen should be used strictly by its recommended dosage amounts. It is less likely to cause stomach problem than aspirin and provides similar pain relief. Exceeding the recommended dosage may increase your risk for developing liver damage.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, relieve pain and inflammation. This group of medications is frequently used for migraines, headaches, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disorder that affects the entire body. NSAIDs block pain and inflammation by reducing the level of prostaglandins in the body.

Patients who require stronger pain management should speak with a physician who specializes in back pain relief. In addition to over-the-counter versions, NSAIDs are available as a prescription medication in higher doses or in combination with an opiate, such as codeine.

Like aspirin, NSAIDs can cause stomach problems. There is a risk for headaches, stomach cramps, nausea and dizziness. Patients who take NSAIDs in combination with steroids have an increased risk for ulcers. Combining NSAIDs and anticoagulants or taking NSAIDs with other anti-inflammatory medications increases the incidence of stomach bleeding.

A doctor or back specialist should help you determine the proper role of anti-inflammatory medication for the treatment of your back pain.

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