Treatment for back problems depends on a number of factors including the findings of diagnostic tests. In many cases, medications to relieve pain and inflammation, slow bone loss or even slow or halt the progress of inflammatory disease are an important part of a back treatment plan.  Depending on your diagnosis, medical treatment may include one or more of the following medications.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Including more than a dozen different drugs, some of which are available without a prescription, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used to help ease arthritis pain and inflammation. They may also be useful for relieving back pain from muscle strain and other causes. By far, most are taken orally. Recently, however, new topical preparations, such as Voltaren Gel and Pennsaid, have been approved.

Read more about NSAIDs.

Read about Voltaren Gel for pain relief.

Analgesics. Analgesics are among the most commonly used drugs for many forms of arthritis and other causes of back pain. Unlike NSAIDs, which target both, pain and inflammation, analgesics are designed purely for pain relief. For that reason, they may be safe for people who are unable to take NSAIDs due to allergies or stomach problems, for example. When taken as directed, analgesics also are an appropriate, and possibly safer, choice for pain not accompanied by inflammation.

Read more about analgesics.

Topical Rubs. If back pain is in the soft tissues, you may find relief from an analgesic salve, rub or balm available over the counter under trade names such as Aspercreme, Ben-Gay, Capzasin-P, Eucalyptamint, Icy Hot and Zostrix. Although these topical preparations, which work through a variety of active ingredients, are usually used on peripheral joints, such as the knees or hands, you might find them useful – and safe – for back pain.

Muscle Relaxants. These are drugs used to ease muscle spasms. For back pain relief, they are often prescribed along with NSAIDs. Commonly prescribed muscle relaxants include cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), orphenadrine (Norflex) and carisoprodol (Soma). Muscle relaxants may cause drowsiness, so they may be helpful if back pain keeps you awake at night.

Corticosteroids. These quick-acting drugs, similar to the cortisone made by your own body, are used to control inflammation. If inflammation is due to a systemic inflammatory disease, such as polymyalgia rheumatica or rheumatoid arthritis in the back, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids. If inflammation is limited to an inflamed joint in the spine, your doctor may inject a corticosteroid preparation directly into the inflamed joint.

Read more about corticosteroids.

Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.  Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) work slowly to modify the course of inflammatory disease. Different DMARDs may be useful for a number of different forms of arthritis that may affect the spine, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis.

Read more about DMARDs.