Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: April 3, 2017
A recent study published in the March 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that the drug Lyrica may be no better than a placebo for treating back pain due to sciatica. News outlets are making a big deal of the findings, but for spine specialists, it’s not all that surprising. At best, pills like Lyrica may be able to control some of the painful symptoms caused by sciatica, but they do nothing to actively treat the problem.
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who reads our blog on a frequent basis, but there is no magic pill that will treat your condition. Pills can help manage symptoms, but they will do nothing to treat the underlying cause.
Pain Pills And Spine Pain
That’s not to say that painkillers have no place in the spine pain treatment plan. Pain medications can play a very important role, and it’s similar to a role we shared when discussing similar findings that said injections aren’t effective for long-term back pain relief. Medications can help control symptoms so that you can do other active treatment modalities that have long-term benefits (exercise, PT, strength training), but they won’t fix the problem on their own.
For example, imagine you’ve been sentenced to life in prison for a crime you didn’t commit. You are confined to a cell 23 hours a day, but you’re allowed one hour outside each day. This time outside is a small allotment of freedom, but unless you take advantage of that time and begin planning how to escape, you’ll never get out of prison. Now imagine that back pain is prison; it’s something that you are destined to experience for the rest of your life unless you do something about it. The pain medication in this scenario is your time outside. They allow you a tiny reprise from pain, but it’s not going to free you from your life sentence unless you take advantage of that time. If you use that time to scout the guards, examine the weaknesses in the fence and gather supplies (exercise, physical therapy, active strength training), you can escape the painful life you’re currently confined to.
Sciatica Pain Treatment
We’re not saying you should throw away your Lyrica if you are currently taking it for spine pain, because quitting your dosage on your own can be downright dangerous. Some people can experience seizures or other issues if they abruptly stop taking a medication, so talk to your doctor about your treatment and how you can take a more active role in managing pain. As we stated above, there’s no passive and easy treatment for pain, but if you are willing to put in the work, we’re confident your sciatica pain can be controlled and treated.
Whether your sciatica pain is best managed with a pain injection and physical therapy, spinal manipulation and non-load bearing exercises like swimming, or weight management and surgery, that decision is best made with the assistance of a spine specialist. They can walk you through all your options and ensure your focus is on treating the pain, not just masking it for the time being. Pain pills do serve a purpose, but they won’t cure your condition. Only through active interventions will you find relief for your back pain. We can help set you up with those options. Contact us today.