Is there a 'best' way to take over-the-counter pain medications for chronic low back pain?
It's best to see a medical doctor before taking any kind of drug for a long-term problem. A serious source of the pain must be ruled out before treating just the symptoms. Over-the-counter medications for back pain relief range from aspirin to Tylenol to ibuprofen. Each of these has one or more names depending on the company making it. They are all pain relievers. Aspirin and Tylenol reduce fever. Aspirin may be taken in low doses for its anti-coagulation (prevents blood clotting) effect by some heart patients. This must be done with a doctor’s advice. Aspirin is an antiinflammatory. Tylenol does not reduce inflammation. Ibuprofen also offers an antiinflammatory response. Aspirin and ibuprofen are called nonsteroidal antiinflammatories (NSAIDs). The effect as an antiinflammatory varies from product to product. It depends on how much and how often they are taken. For example, aspirin has its peak effect in about two hours. Aleve (one name for ibuprofen) has a peak effect in two to four hours. The newer Cox-2 inhibitors (NSAIDs) such as Celebrex or Vioxx peak at two to three hours. You should ask your doctor or pharmacist for the best way to take these drugs for your case.