Drug Treatment Options For Severe Back Pain

One of the most common conditions that pain management doctors treat is severe back pain. Before implementing a treatment plan, pain management physicians need to perform comprehensive examinations to determine the underlying cause of back pain. While physical therapy, therapeutic massage, and ice therapy are often used to help manage back pain, most pain management doctors also offer various drug treatment options. Here are some types of medications your physician may prescribe to manage your severe pain. 

Opioid Pain Medications

Opioid pain medications are often used to manage acute pain. They work in your central nervous system and brain to help block pain signals. While effective in treating acute or severe pain, they are usually prescribed for short periods of time.

They are typically reserved for patients who have not experienced relief from other medications or conservative treatment options. If you experience side effects from your opioid pain medication, tell your doctor. He or she may reduce your dosage or discontinue the medication altogether if a dosage reduction fails to relieve your side effects.

Common opioid side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, urinary retention, constipation, dry mouth, and itchy skin. Your physician will recommend drinking plenty of water while taking opioid pain medication because this will help relieve dry mouth, prevent urinary retention, and promote effective bowel activity.


Antidepressant medication is another drug treatment option that helps manage severe back pain. Certain chemicals in the brain that are thought to be responsible for clinical depression are also thought to play an important role in the development of severe pain.

Not only can antidepressants relieve back pain, but they can also decrease a person's perception of pain. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, as well as tricyclic antidepressants, may also help improve sleep patterns in those suffering from severe back pain. Restorative sleep helps promote healing and may help the brain release "feel good" chemicals such as endorphins.

While effective in treating both pain and depression, antidepressant medications can cause side effects such as weight gain, blurred vision, drowsiness, dizziness, and headaches. Your pain management doctor can adjust your dosage if you experience side effects or simply replace your medication with a different antidepressant. 

If you suffer from severe back pain, make an appointment with a pain management physician. After a complete examination that may include X-rays, an ultrasound study, a magnetic resonance imaging test, and blood tests, your doctor will develop an effective treatment plan that may include the above medications.

To learn more, contact a pain management doctor.