A Comprehensive Review of Over the Counter Treatment for Chronic Low Back Pain

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Pain and Therapy


Purpose of the Review: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a major contributor to societal disease burden and years lived with disability. Nonspecific low back pain (LBP) is attributed to physical and psychosocial factors, including lifestyle factors, obesity, and depression. Mechanical low back pain occurs related to repeated trauma to or overuse of the spine, intervertebral disks, and surrounding tissues. This causes disc herniation, vertebral compression fractures, lumbar spondylosis, spondylolisthesis, and lumbosacral muscle strain. Recent Findings: A systematic review of relevant literature was conducted. CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, and two clinical trials registry databases up to 24 June 2015 were included in this review. Search terms included: low back pain, over the counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), CLBP, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophen, disk herniation, lumbar spondylosis, vertebral compression fractures, spondylolisthesis, and lumbosacral muscle strain. Over-the-counter analgesics are the most frequently used first-line medication for LBP, and current guidelines indicate that over-the-counter medications should be the first prescribed treatment for non-specific LBP. Current literature suggests that NSAIDs and acetaminophen as well as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and opioids are effective treatments for CLBP. Recent randomized controlled trials also evaluate the benefit of buprenorphine, tramadol, and strong opioids such as oxycodone. Summary: This systematic review discusses current evidence pertaining to non-prescription treatment options for chronic low back pain.

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