Your surgeon may prescribe medications to help alleviate the pain, tissue inflammation, cramping or muscle spasms. There are five main types of medications that can be used alone or in combination with one another. The need for these medications should be discussed with your physician so an appropriate regimen can be formulated for your specific condition.


Narcotics are used for a short time to control acute pain. Acute pain is sometimes described as severe and sharp. Narcotics taken for a long time may cause your body to develop a drug tolerance, meaning it takes a larger dose to control pain.

Muscle Relaxants

Muscle relaxants help relieve muscle tightness, spasms and cramping. Acting on the central nervous system, these drugs cause a relaxing effect in muscles.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs are medications which primarily help reduce inflammation and pain caused by many spinal disorders. For example, herniated discs can cause spinal nerve inflammation and pain, whereas whiplash or overuse injuries affect soft tissues and cause swelling and muscle pain.


Back or neck pain can make getting to and staying asleep difficult, and therefore your physician may prescribe a sedative to help you sleep. These medications should not be taken long-term, as they can be habit-forming.

Transdermal Analgesics

Certain pain-relieving drugs are available in transdermal patch form, which delivers the medication over time through the skin. Transdermal patches help some patients avoid the gastrointestinal consequences of oral medication.