Recent Study Suggests NSAIDs, Muscle Relaxers Best for Easing Low Back Pain

13 Mar, 2023 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – According to some statistics, low back pain is the top musculoskeletal condition to cause disability across the globe. Acute back pain is when patients have symptoms from 2 to 12 weeks. Chronic back pain is when pain lasts longer than 3 months. Around 60 percent of patients with low back pain progress into having chronic back pain. 

Some studies have shown that patients with non-specific low back pain and negative recovery expectations are twice as likely as those with positive expectations to remain absent from work. While the socioeconomical effects of low back pain have been well demonstrated, studies are limited and at times conflicting on the best overall pharmacological management approach for acute back pain. 

A recent study published last month in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research demonstrated that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or NSAIDs paired with muscle relaxants may be the most effective course of treatment to relieve pain. German researchers analyzed 18 studies that included 3,478 patients with acute low back pain for less than 12 weeks. The researchers excluded studies that included opioids, and focused their investigation on lumbar spine cases. Over half of the cases were females at 54 percent, and the average age of patients across all included studies was 42.5 years. The average time period from initial back pain to treatment was 15.1 days. 

The researchers found that a combination of muscle relaxants and NSAIDs were effective in reducing pain and disability for acute low back pain cases at approximately 1 week. While the combination of NSAIDs and acetaminophen showed greater pain relief than NSAIDs alone, use of acetaminophen alone was not associated with any significant improvement in clinical outcomes. The Placebo administration was shown not to be effective at reducing pain, and the use of acetaminophen alone did not score any better than the placebo. 

The researchers concede that most patients with low back pain do experience spontaneous recovery and reduction of symptoms, which brings into question the ultimate impact of the medications. Additionally, the researchers point out that while the study focuses on the pharmacological management for acute low back pain, the use of drugs should be a subsequent strategy once other nonpharmacological and noninvasive therapy has proven to not be successful. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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