TUESDAY, Oct. 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Naproxen — a drug available over-the-counter and by prescription — appears to provide as much relief for low back pain as a narcotic painkiller or a muscle relaxant, a new study suggests.
The study compared the use of prescription-strength naproxen (Naprosyn) alone to the use of naproxen with the narcotic painkiller oxycodone with acetaminophen (Percocet), or the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine (Amrix). Patients who took a combination of drugs fared no better than when they took naproxen alone, the researchers said.
“Acute low back pain is a frustrating condition,” said lead researcher Dr. Benjamin Friedman, an associate professor of emergency medicine at Montefiore Medical Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.
Many patients have already taken over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), before they arrive in the emergency room, he said. Some people may have taken insufficient doses at incorrect intervals and could be advised to optimize their NSAID regimen, he said.
“But for those patients who have already optimized their NSAID regimen, there are no additional medical therapies available,” Friedman said.
“We don’t have good medical treatment for acute low back pain,” he added.
The report was published Oct. 20 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
For the study, Friedman and colleagues randomly assigned just over 300 patients who came to an emergency room complaining of lower back pain to 10 days of treatment with one of three combinations. The combinations included 500 milligrams (mg) of naproxen plus a placebo pill; 500 mg of naproxen plus 5 mg of cyclobenzaprine; or 500 mg naproxen plus a pill containing 5 mg oxycodone and 325 mg acetaminophen.
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