How to Safely Use Back and Neck Pain Medication

As a nonsurgical treatment method or to help you manage pain following spine surgery, your doctor may prescribe pain medication. It is important to understand how to properly use these medications, as they can be the key to successfully recovering from spine conditions and spine surgery. Here are some helpful tips for how to safely use back and neck pain medication:

  1. Make a list of all current medications: Whether you suffer from chronic back pain or not, you should always be prepared to tell a medical professional about any medications you are currently taking. This includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and supplements. This list should include not only the names but also the frequency and dosage. If you find it easier, bring them with you to your next appointment. Additionally, if you have a past history of substance abuse, you should disclose that your provider as well. 
  2. Find a trusted pharmacist: Pharmacists continue to be ranked among the most honest and ethical professionals in the United States, but with the decrease of locally owned pharmacy, how well do you really know the person dispensing your medication? Your pharmacist is a key member of your healthcare team and by building a relationship, he or she can help identify possible risks as your drug regimen changes and protect against adverse drug interactions.
  3. Disclose allergies: Along with disclosing any medications you are currently taking, make sure your doctor and pharmacist are aware of any medications you are allergic to or that have caused an adverse reaction.
  4. Speak up: Can’t understand your doctor’s handwriting? Unsure about refills? Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about anything that is unclear. Your doctor and pharmacist should be able to answer the following questions in plain language about your back and neck pain medications:
    • What is this medicine for?
    • Where and how should I store the drug?
    • How should I take the medicine and for how long?
    • What are the possible side effects? Are there any side effects I should contact a doctor about right away?
    • Is this medicine safe to take with the other medications, vitamins and/or supplements that I currently take?
    • Are there any foods, drinks or activities I should avoid while taking this medicine? Many back and neck pain medications may cause drowsiness and when taken, you should not drive or operate machinery. This may mean limiting medication use to before you would normally go to sleep or making sure you have someone who can drive you if necessary.
  5. Follow directions: Back and neck pain medications are can have significant side effects, particularly when directions are not followed carefully. Taking too much, crushing or breaking pills or taking them along with a medication or supplement you did not disclose to your doctor can alter the rate at which the medication is absorbed and lead to overdose or death.

When to contact a physician

Spine pain is one of the top five disabling conditions in the United States. When managed by a licensed medical professional and taken according to instructions, prescription pain medications can be an effective tool for managing back and neck pain.

To learn more about other treatment options including minimally invasive surgery, call Pacific Spine Specialists at 503.885.9391 to schedule an appointment today.