Alternative therapiesBack Pain

What Your Lower Back Pain Drugs ACTUALLY Do

Lower back pain statistics are increasing, even amidst all the medical advances our scientific and medical communities have made. There is much that goes unanswered, and in fact seems to progressively be getting worse, no matter how many new surgeries, drugs or procedures are offered to those who are afflicted. It makes the average person who is truly suffering from physical pain in any part of the body, including low back pain, wonder if there will ever by any sure cure or remedy that can be relied on.

Well, as we’ve talked about earlier, statistics show that the majority of low back pain difficulties are not serious or major in their nature, and will within a given short period of time go away naturally. But for those who can’t cope with the pain that is often associated with back problems, we’ve included some surprising statistics on those little talked about side effects of over-the-counter pain relievers.

First we’ll start off with a few statistics that were published in the Journal from the American Board of Family Medicine covering a study on the overtreatment of chronic lower back pain. In their findings they state that chronic back pain is the most common complaint or reason patients go for a doctor visit. Due to this increase a number of new procedures, methods and drugs have been introduced, all with very little documentation as to whether they will help or be effective.

Stats for Low Back Pain Procedures and Drugs

The JABFM studies reported these percentages of INCREASE for a variety of procedures for lower back pain treatment:

  • 220% spinal fusion surgery
  • 307% lumbar magnetic resonance images
  • 423% EXPENDITURES for OPIOIDS (opium based pain killers)
  • 629% epidural steroid injections

The studies suggest that even with this major increase in new procedures being used and drugs prescribed, nothing is producing significant improvements overall for the majority of the patients who undergo lower back pain treatment.

Common Drugs Used for Low Back Pain

Now for a few more surprising statistics, below are listed the 5 most common over-the-counter drugs taken for pain relief, and the side effects they produce.


Cox 2 inhibitors – Brand names Celebrex.   A dose of 400 mg produces a 250% increased risk of heart attack and /or stroke.  A dose of 800 mg produces a 340% risk.

Naproxen, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Advil

NSAIDs (nonsterioidal anti-inflammatory drug)– Brand names Naproxen, Aleve, Ibuprofen, Advil.  Close to 17,000 people a year die from a complication associated with taking an NSAID. (Similar stats as those who die from AIDS) The biggest KNOWN risk of NSAIDs is from gastrointestinal ulcers and severe bleeding of the stomach and gut lining.

Percocet, Norco, Lorcet, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, oxycodone

Opiaids (Opiate based pain drugs) – Brand names Percocet, Norco, Lorcet, Vicodin, Hydrocodone, oxycodone. From 2002 deaths nearly doubled attributed to prescription opiate drugs. Just within the U.S. 16,000 people have been reported to have died from overdoses of prescription opioid drugs.



Acetaminophen – Brand names Tylenol or acetaminophen. In the U.S. the leading cause of acute liver failure is due to acetaminophen use; while it has been established that the leading cause of calls to poison control centers is due to acetaminophens, and 56,000 people visit hospital emergency rooms for treatment for acetaminophen overdose.(see here for more details)


Salicylates (acetylsalicylate) – Brand name Aspirin. Is a known cause and link to Reye’s Syndrome, a swelling of the brain and liver, and 10% of those who get Reye’s will die, even though treated early.


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