When back pain becomes a significant distraction from daily life, many people are inclined to take some type of medication to make their discomfort go away. While there’s no denying the fact that opioid painkillers and other types of pain meds can have some benefits for people with back pain, this isn’t a solution you should rely on for long-term relief. Take a moment to consider the advantages and disadvantages associated with taking back pain meds.
Pain Medication Advantages
The most obvious advantage associated with taking pain meds for back pain is the relief they can provide, especially following a medical procedure such as coflex surgery. Los Angeles patients can receive relief from persistent or recurring spine-related aches and pains, which can have a tremendous effect on physical and emotional wellbeing, even if it’s only for a short time. Some other pain med benefits to consider include:
• Improved quality of life – Pain meds can make it easier to focus on your daily routine at home and at work by masking the sensations of pain that would otherwise be a distraction.
• More productive physical therapy – Getting a reprieve from back pain can allow you to take more of an active role in your physical therapy routines, which is what tends to produce better long-term results.
• Convenience – It’s not going to be convenient for you to run to your physical therapist or call your doctor every time your back pain spikes. Medication is an easy way to manage your pain until you can see your doctor or get to your next physical therapy session.
Disadvantages of Pain Med Use
One of the biggest disadvantages of taking pain meds for back pain is that you’re relying on a short-term solution. What painkillers do best is mask pain, but they don’t treat the underlying source of the spine-related discomfort. Additional drawbacks to consider when weighing your options with pain meds include:
• It’s a passive treatment – When you take pain meds, you’re not actively treating or addressing the source of your back pain, which means you’re not doing anything to target spine-supporting muscles or promote the healing process.
• Higher doses are needed over time – Your body can build up a natural resistance to certain pain meds, especially opioids. If this happens, you may find yourself needing higher doses of your meds to produce the same level of relief, which also increases the potential for side effects and complications.
• There’s always the potential for dependence and addiction – The longer you use opioid painkillers, the greater your odds are of developing a dependence on them. For this reason, any strong painkillers should be used with caution (e.g., following dosage instructions and reporting any side effects to your doctor).
Most people with back pain benefit from a combination of treatments that typically include various forms of physical therapy, therapeutic exercises, and appropriate lifestyle adjustments, such as losing weight, improving posture, and opting for foods that naturally fight inflammation. Your doctor or Los Angeles spine surgeon can determine how medication fits into your overall treatment plan.
While medication can be an essential part of treatment for back pain, patients should only take medication as directed by a physician. If you’re having persistent, severe, or sudden back pain, don’t rely on self-medicating to resolve the issue—see a spine specialist right away for prompt diagnosis and proper treatment. At The Spine Institute, our industry-leading back health specialists use the most innovative techniques to provide patients with long-term and often permanent pain relief. Call one of our friendly team members today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.