What's the best pain reliever for the occasional bout of low back pain?

Over-the-counter drugs for pain relief such as Tylenol or ibuprofen are used most often for acute low back pain that doesn't require a doctor's visit. Patients who seek medical care for acute back pain are most likely to be given a muscle relaxer and/or an anti-inflammatory.

Rest is advised (only if needed) for the first 24 to 48 hours of acute back pain. Whenever possible, activity is still the best way to treat back pain.

When strong pain relief is needed, opioid drugs such as codeine or morphine are used. The potential for addiction makes the use of opioids less favorable than other, less addictive agents.