Acute low back pain with or without sciatica is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical attention. Although most patients recover quickly with minimal treatment, proper evaluation is needed to identify cases of serious underlying disease. Some red flags should require aggressive treatment, while others are less worrisome.
If there are no warning signs, such as neurological deficits, and the symptoms have been present for less than 8 to 12 weeks, cases are usually first treated with medication. Medications for acute low back pain and sciatica include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, oral steroids, and pain relievers. This article will briefly discuss each class of medications used to treat acute low back pain.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often the first choice for acute low back pain. They reduce pain and inflammation. Examples include Motrin, Naproxen, and Lodine. Switching to another NSAID may be considered if the first one is not effective. NSAIDs used in high doses or for long periods can cause gastrointestinal problems such as gastritis or ulcers. They should also be used with caution in patients with a history of heart disease.
Radiofrequency ablation (or RFA)
RFA is a procedure used by doctors to reduce pain. RFA is an effective and safe treatment option for chronic back pain that is generally well tolerated with few associated complications. There is a very low risk of bleeding and infection at the insertion site.
Your doctor may place an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in your arm before the procedure to administer a mild sedative and local anesthesia to reduce any discomfort during the RFA procedure. With local anesthesia, you will remain awake, but you will not feel any pain.
Stress is another major contributor to muscle tension and pressure. Take time to exercise, relax, and practice techniques like yoga and mindfulness meditation to reduce stress. Other stress relief options include counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and deep breathing exercises.
A growing body of scientific evidence shows that foods rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients can help relieve back pain by soothing muscles. Some of the best anti-inflammatory diets you can eat are seafood, including salmon, shellfish, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies.