There are different types of topical medications, different ways of delivery and are available for patients with back and neck pain. A physician may combine one or more types of medication for maximum relief or as a way of limiting the side effects of larger doses of only one medication. Strong dose compounds and controlled drugs are only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Medicines that help control/reduce pain include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Topical anesthetics
Medicines with a low potency and low risk of side effects are available at stores and local pharmacies over-the-counter. But remember medications sold over the counter without a prescription doesn’t mean they are safe to use as much as possible. Please read the label and follow the instructions. Taking higher doses, even acetaminophen e.g. Tylenol can cause liver damage. Discussing these medications with a doctor or pharmacist before purchase would be wise. Your physician should know if you plan to continue using over-the-counter medications.
Inform your physician about all the products you take including herbal remedies to decrease the risk of side effects or potential severe drug interactions. When acute pain is present, injections either intravenous or intramuscular injected into the muscles are used. For chronic pain, medications are used and are typically in pill form. Both methods have limitations and different delivery approaches may be considered. This includes inhalation or topical on top of the skin applications.
Topical Pain Alleviators
These type of medications come prepared and are applied to the skin via:
- Patch For example – Lidoderm patch
Topical medications aim to reduce inflammation and soothe nerve and muscle pain. Some are available with a doctor’s prescription and others are over-the-counter. Medication administered through the skin is becoming more popular.
The skin is the largest organ of the body. It serves as water barrier protection, it regulates body temperature, controls fluid loss, and is important to homeostasis/healthy internal balance.
It is made up of many layers and is supported by a complex blood supply. The blood vessels are in a framework of connective tissue including fat and fascia that holds the tissues together. Below that layer is the bone and muscle. There are also nerve endings that relay touch, temperature, and pain signals from the skin to the spinal cord, to the brain.
Compounds have been developed to safely carry the various medicines through the skin into the blood. These compound enhancers are able to penetrate the skin by opening normally closed channels for a quick time to help the skin absorb the medication/s and then close back up.
Spine physicians and pain specialists often first recommend topical pain-relievers to help relieve the symptoms of back and neck pain/conditions.
Topical medicines may be used to treat the pain associated with:
- Neck strain
- Low back strain
- Muscle inflammation
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain types of nerve pain
- Bases like creams, ointments, gels, and sprays make application easy.
- Symptom relief is faster than oral medicines.
- Symptoms reduce at a steady rate.
- Relief can last longer.
- Not as much medicine is needed when applied in topical form.
As the medication is diffused through the skin and enters the bloodstream, it bypasses the digestive system reducing any unwanted side effects, like an irritated stomach.
- Blood flows in different ways to different parts of the body. Education about the product is essential to know where to apply the product like the arm or abdomen and how often.
- Blood flow to certain parts of the body can change over time. For example, when it’s cold the blood vessels in the skin contract which decreases the absorption of the medicine, while sweating can open the pores too much and allow too much medication to be absorbed too quickly or wash it away completely.
- The skin could present a negative reaction. Therefore patients need to know what to do if an allergic or other reaction takes place.
- The skin nerves are different from the spinal nerves, so certain types of neck/back pain may not respond well to topical treatment.
- Spinal conditions/disorders deep in the body will not respond well to topical therapy.
Is it right
Are topical pain-alleviating medications the right for you? The best person to ask is your doctor or healthcare provider. Upon a final diagnosis and medical history, your doctor should offer various treatments/therapies for pain management.
Patches and creams can be used to deliver a wide variety of medications. These topicals are becoming popular because of their convenience and, reduction of negative side-effects.
- For individuals with muscle or tendon inflammation, applying a topical to the affected area limits the amount of medication going to other areas of the body that do not need it.
- For those that have stomach problems and find it difficult to digest anti-inflammatories, these topicals could be all they need to stay active.
- Individuals with chronic neck or back pain should discuss these medications with their pain specialist, physician or chiropractor to see if one of these topicals might work for them.
El Paso, TX Chiropractic Care Neck Pain Treatment
Everyone needs to take care of their back/spine because it is what holds us up as long as we keep it straight and strong. Strengthening the core can help prevent a weak and misaligned spine from getting worse and helps to eliminate pain.
Back safety should be priority one, as it affects all aspects of your life. Not only are you protecting your back, but are preventing future injury. We all need to pay attention to proper body positioning and body mechanics, as it will pay off in the long run.