Naproxen Alone May Best to Treat Low Back Pain

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi

naproxen for back pain

Taking only naproxen may be the best way to treat certain types of lower back pain, according to a new double-blind study.

According to researchers, among patients with acute, nontraumatic, nonradicular lower back pain (LBP) who visited the emergency department, those who added Percocet or oxycodone/acetaminophen to their daily dosage did not experience improvements in functional outcomes compared to those who just took naproxen.

“Opioids, when combined with naproxen, are not more effective than naproxen alone for the majority of patients with low back pain,” said Benjamin W. Friedman, MD, of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York City. “We demonstrated that adding cyclobenzaprine or oxycodone/acetaminophen to naproxen is unlikely to benefit the patient. Emergency physicians should counsel their patients that passage of time will bring improvement and eventual relief to most patients.”

Naproxen for Back Pain

According to national estimates, nearly 3 million people are admitted to the emergency room each year with lower back pain. Oftentimes patients are treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), opioids, and a combination of muscle relaxers. Throwing a host of pain relievers may help in the short-term, but many patients notice that pain returns within a few days.

“Pain outcomes for these patients are generally poor,” the authors reported.

For the study, researchers separated participants with lower back pain into three groups. One group received a naproxen and placebo, another group received naproxen and Percocet, and the final group received naproxen and oxycodone/acetaminophen. One week into the study, no one group experienced improved functional outcomes compared to the others.

“In general, a majority of patients with acute onset LBP report persistent suffering 1 week later. By 3 months, however, the majority has improved.”

Researchers concluded that extra doses of Percocet and oxycodone/acetaminophen were unnecessary so long as the patient took naproxen, and they also recommended adding regular exercise to the daily routine to build muscles in the back.


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