Acute low back pain, with or without sciatica, is one of the most common reasons for adults to see a physician. Although most patients recover quickly with minimal treatment, proper evaluation is needed to identify serious underlying causes. If no red flags are found (such as neurological deficits), and if the symptoms have been present for less than 8 to 12 weeks, cases are first treated with medications. This includes non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, oral steroids and pain medications.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) are often the first step for acute low back pain as they reduce discomfort and inflammation. Examples include Motrin, Naproxen, and Lodine. Switching to a different NSAID may be considered if the first is ineffective. NSAIDs used in high doses or for extended periods of time can cause gastrointestinal problems such as gastritis or ulcers, and should be used with caution in patients with a history of heart disease.