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What medications can help alleviate pain caused by a degenerative spine?

Many people find medications to be helpful for relieving neck or back pain caused by a degenerative spine, but there are many options and no single medication is effective for everyone. The precise cause and nature of the resulting symptoms can vary widely, plus each patient is unique. The best way to ensure that you will find the most appropriate and effective medication for you is to consult with a physician who is familiar with your circumstances and can provide individualized guidance.

If you choose to use medication to address your degenerative spine pain, you should take it only as directed by a physician. Also, be sure that the same physician initially reviews all of your medications — including prescription drugs, over-the-counter remedies, vitamins and herbal supplements — and continually monitors your progress. This will help to ensure your safety and prevent adverse drug interactions.

Commonly recommended medications for a degenerative spine

When used appropriately, certain medications can be a convenient and effective form of treatment for a degenerative spine. Some options include:

  • Acetaminophen. This analgesic drug works by hindering the brain’s perception of pain. Widely available without a prescription, acetaminophen is generally safe, causes no adverse side effects and can be used as needed for getting through painful episodes. However, it will have no effect on inflammation.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These pain-relieving medications can reduce inflammation without the side effects typically associated with steroid use. Common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen (available over the counter) and COX-2 inhibitors (available by prescription).
  • Oral steroids. These powerful, nonnarcotic anti-inflammatory medications can be taken to address severe pain. Initially, a physician may recommend a high dose to kick-start the effects of the medication, then taper the dose over the course of several days. Because chronic steroid use can lead to complications, including headaches, weight gain and insomnia, these medications are generally used only for a short period of time (one to two weeks).

Surgery to address a degenerative spine

For patients who elect surgical treatment for a degenerative spine, the minimally invasive spine surgery performed by the surgeons at USA Spine Care is often clinically appropriate and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^ If you would like to learn more, contact us to request a free MRI review.* Our team can review your options and help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive surgery.

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