It’s estimated that up to eight in every 10 people in the UK are affected by back pain at some point in their lives (NHS.uk, 2017) making it one of the most common health complaints. The cause of back pain, especially in the lower back, is often unclear, and usually the pain improves after a few weeks. However, sometimes back pain can be an issue for many months, or even years, and this may need to be managed with a combination of medication and other treatments.
Lower Back Pain Relief
Pain in the lower back is common; it doesn’t usually have a serious cause and often gets better on its own after a few days or weeks, but it can have a significant impact on your daily life, your sleep quality and your overall mobility, whilst it lasts. If the pain is severe, or gets worse, rather than better, after a few weeks, or is accompanied by other symptoms, you will need to get it checked out by a medical professional. Otherwise, it’s usually something you can manage without the intervention of medical staff, by using a variety of lower back pain relief products and other lower back pain treatments.
Upper Back Pain Relief
Pain in the middle or upper back is known as thoracic back pain. It isn’t as common as lower back pain and could be caused by a wide variety of different things; one of the most common causes is poor posture; for example, experienced after sitting at a computer for a long time. Upper back pain can also be caused by more serious conditions, including spinal problems, osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, so if your pain is severe or worsens over time, you should see your doctor.
If your upper back pain has no serious cause, and is due to posture, repetitive activities, a muscle injury or a sports injury, you can usually manage the pain whilst your body recovers, with pain medication and some self-care measures and treatments.
Back Pain Treatment at Home
Along with taking the right type of medication for your back pain, you can also often treat the problem in other ways too, to help your body recover, to strengthen muscles in the affected area or generally improve your mobility. These can include:
- Walking, swimming or using an exercise bike. These are all good forms of exercise for those suffering from back pain to gradually build up fitness.
- Ensuring your posture is good when sitting or working in one position for extended periods of time
- Moving around often to avoid staying in the same position for any great length of time
- Doing gentle stretching exercises or yoga poses specifically designed for strengthening the back (these should not cause you pain to carry out; if they do, consult a medical professional)
You may find that hot or cold packs can be used to ease your pain, although they should never be applied directly to the skin.
Choosing the Right Pain Relief for Back Pain
There are many different pain medications you can take to relieve your back pain. The right combination of pain relief, along with other types of treatment, can help you to effectively manage your back pain and minimise its impact on your daily life. Some types of pain relief aren’t suitable for everyone to take and can conflict with other medication you might be on for other conditions; or, they are only designed to be taken in the short-term and are not recommended for managing long-term pain. There are also the potential side effects of each medication to consider, which vary for each type of tablet, and this information is available on our product pages for individual medicines. What works well for one patient might not have the same effect on you.
Finding a pain relief solution that works for you is essential in helping you to successfully manage your back pain. Some of the most popular medications for back pain relief include:
Naproxen is a type of pain relief medication from a group known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is commonly taken for lower back pain relief because it can help bring down inflammation whilst also relieving pain. You shouldn’t take Naproxen if you are allergic to aspirin, or any other NSAIDs, or have had an allergic reaction to any other pain relief previously. It should not be taken by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or by anyone who has had stomach or duodenum ulcers.
Usually known just as Codeine, this medication is from a group called opioids. It is designed for people with mild to moderate back pain that isn’t relieved by ibuprofen or paracetamol alone. The liver converts codeine to morphine, which provides the main relief. However, this is a medication designed for short-term use only, as it can be addictive, and some people can experience side effects when taking it. Codeine isn’t suitable for everyone, so speak to your doctor before taking it if you have any existing medical conditions or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Co-Codamol / Zapain
Co-Codamol and Zapain are also from the opioid group of medications and can be used for back pain relief. They are essentially the same medication, but Zapain is the brand and Co-Codamol is a generic version of the same medicine. They are a combination of codeine phosphate and paracetamol. As with all tablets containing codeine, Co-Codamol is designed for short-term use and should be taken exactly as directed. You should not drink alcohol while you are taking Co-Codamol and some people taking this medication do experience side effects. You should not take Zapain or Co-Codamol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Consult your doctor before taking it if you have any other medical conditions.
Nhs UK., (2017). Back Pain. [Online] [accessed 23 April 2019]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/back-pain/