Do Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Cause Lower Back Pain?

Do Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Cause Lower Back Pain?

I just read a very interesting article in The Denver Post by Gina Kolata of the NY Times.

I’m a big fan of her articles as she is constantly seeking out interesting and relevant research regarding how our bodies work and focuses more on pain.

This recent article which appeared in today’s paper on 5/21/22 was titled Study: Common Medications Can Prolong Back Pain.

The research this article was commenting on was published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Basically, researchers were baffled by the fact that people who had a high inflammatory response to their acute back pain episode ended up recovering faster than those who had a lower inflammatory response and who took more anti-inflammatories.

This second group ended up developing chronic back pain.

The researchers ascribe this result to the anti-inflammatories. This is due to their assumption that low back pain or chronic pain for that matter is caused by one problem.

How could this be?

Well, I think it has nothing to do with anti-inflammatories and everything to do with the nature of the back pain episode.

I explain this in my podcast commenting on this article which you can listen to here.

Briefly acute back pain episodes due to tissue trauma such as a sprain or strain will have higher inflammatory responses.

These cases will heal faster because they are the result of simple tissue damage which heals on its own within 6-8 weeks.

Acute back pain episodes due to progressive stress from mechanical breakdown will not have as much tissue damage—instead it will be due to gradual degradation of the back from poor function.

These cases will therefore have less inflammatory response and take longer to heal because most practitioners approach solving these cases as if they were due to tissue damage—which they are not.

Instead, these people must solve the mechanical issues compromising the back. It’s often several months before health practitioners’ figure this out.

If you’d like to hear more, please listen to my podcast, Talk About Pain.

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