Debra Wood, RN
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Medications are used to control symptoms of low back pain and sciatica. The medications are listed by their generic name.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
Analgesics (pain medication)
Common names include:
These drugs work to control inflammation, which produces pain. Some prescription NSAIDs are higher doses of the same NSAIDs that are available without a prescription.
Possible side effects include:
Some prescription NSAIDs (such as, celecoxib, meloxicam) have been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Other studies show that some NSAIDs may cause complications in patients recovering from stroke, heart attacks, or open heart surgery. NSAIDs can also interfere with the actions of other drugs. Be certain your physician is aware of all drugs you take, including herbs and supplements even if you only take these occasionally.
Prescription pain pills may be prescribed short-term for severe pain.
Antidepressants may also be prescribed for chronic low back pain.
Do not stop taking these drugs without checking with your doctor.
Muscle relaxants help calm muscle spasms. They may be ordered for short-term pain relief.
These drugs work to control inflammation, which produces pain.
Acetaminophen relieves pain through different biological mechanisms. It is not an NSAID. It can cause or exacerbate liver problems if recommended doses are exceeded. Do not drink alcohol while taking this drug. Do not take more than the recommended dose. Acetaminophen is unlikely to cause side effects associated with other pain medications such as gastrointestinal upset, fluid retention, and constipation.
Contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms:
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
Acute low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114958/Acute-low-back-pain. Updated August 12, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Chronic low back pain. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116935/Chronic-low-back-pain Updated August 18, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Low back pain. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00311. Updated December 2013. Accessed December 15, 2015.
Oltean H, Robbins C, van Tulder MW, et al. Herbal medicine for low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(12):CD004504
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
website. Available at:
Updated November 3, 2015. Accessed December 16, 2015.
Santos J, Alarcao J, Fareleira F, et al. Tapentadol for chronic musculoskeletal pain in adults.
Sciatica. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115166/Sciatica. Updated February 8, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.
9/2/2009 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116935/Chronic-low-back-pain. Urquhart D, Hoving J, et al. Antidepressants for non-specific low back pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(3):CD001703.
11/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116935/Chronic-low-back-pain. US Food and Drug Administration. FDA clears Cymbalta to treat chronic musculoskeletal pain. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm232708.htm. Published November 4, 2010. Accessed November 12, 2010.
2/18/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116935/Chronic-low-back-pain. Serretti A, Mandelli L. Antidepressants and body weight: a comprehensive review and meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;71(10):1259-1272.
Last reviewed December 2015 by
Laura Lei-Rivera, DPT
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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