Is it okay to take narcotics for back pain when the cause of the pain is still unknown? I've had low back pain for six months with no relief. The doctor has ruled out cancer, fracture, and infection. It may just be muscular or from a torn ligament.

Narcotics for pain control can be used successfully for chronic, severe low back pain in a small number of patients. Such drugs can help improve function and help patients get back to work. With monthly check-ups the long-term use of opioids can be managed.

A recent study from the University of Pittsburgh showed patients with a wide variety of back pain problems made use of narcotic and other, less potent pain killers (analgesics). Adults over 40 are more likely to use these types of drugs. Women are slightly more likely than men to take prescription pain relievers.

Analgesic drug therapy is used to provide pain relief during the recovery process. Most musculoskeletal problems are healed within four to six weeks. The use of medications should decrease over that time as well.