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Many things can cause low back pain: a pulled muscle, muscle spasms, a pinched nerve, a “slipped” (herniated) disk, osteoarthritis, etc. Sometimes, the exact cause of the pain is not known. When left untreated, it can become chronic and can have a significant impact on quality of life. That is why it is important to do something about it.
There are two types of over-the-counter (OTC) back pain medication available: analgesics (pain relievers) and muscle relaxants.
All analgesics available without a prescription relieve pain. Some, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen, also helps reduce the inflammation (swelling).
Muscle relaxants help loosen and relax muscles. Since their effect tends to be limited, they are often used in conjunction with a pain reliever.
Due to the precautions and contraindications associated with pain relievers and muscle relaxants, it is best to consult your pharmacist before using them, especially if you are taking medication for other health problems.
Your pharmacist will assess the cause, severity and time of onset of your pain, and your current state of health, to recommend a product that is suited to your needs and compatible with any other medication you may already be taking. They may refer you to a doctor, as needed.
You may be tempted to cut back all activities when you experience low back pain, but that can slow healing and weaken your muscles. It is important to remain active while respecting your pain threshold.
Physical activities that strengthen your back muscles, such as Pilates, yoga, or strength training, can promote healing and help prevent subsequent flare-ups.
It may also be helpful to see a physiotherapist. These health care professionals can tailor an exercise program based on the cause of your low back pain.
If you know what caused your low back pain, you may be able to make adjustments to prevent it from happening again, such as learning how to properly move heavy objects or making adjustments to your work environment.
If your low back pain stems from poor posture at work, an occupational therapist can provide valuable advice on how to improve your environment.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.