Instead of Long-acting opioid pain medication, such as OxyContin (or generic oxycodone)
Go OTC The NSAIDs Advil (or generic ibuprofen) and Aleve (or generic naproxen), or non-NSAID Tylenol (or generic acetaminophen)
Save as much as $115 a month
Why switch? Unlike opioid painkillers, which block signals to the brain, these NSAIDs reduce pain by inhibiting the release of a certain enzyme that produces hormones that cause inflammation. For mild to moderate chronic pain, studies show that NSAIDs work about as well as opioid drugs and are less risky.
Opioids are only moderately effective and little is known about their long-term effects. Also, they don’t always completely eliminate pain; can cause side effects like nausea, constipation, sedation, and dizziness; and can cause your body to build up a tolerance so that you need increasingly higher doses, raising the risk of side effects. And they can actually increase your body’s sensitivity to pain and lead to addiction. To treat lower back pain, try nondrug treatments like exercise, physical therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Acupuncture, massage, or yoga may help, too.
When to see a doctor If pain lasts longer than a week or two, radiates down your leg, or is accompanied by leg weakness, call your physician. Also be aware that NSAIDs have been linked with gastrointestinal bleeding, stomach ulcers, kidney failure, heart attacks, and strokes. So you may want to consider Tylenol, a non-NSAID, first. NSAIDs can also aggravate high blood pressure.
Prevent it in the first place Clinical studies have found that exercise can help prevent non-acute back pain. Try water and walking workouts as well as aerobic exercise, weight training, and muscle endurance and stretching exercises.