Using Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Prolong Back Pain
Acute back pain is defined as lasting less than four weeks while chronic back pain lasts more than 12 weeks. For many decades it's been standard medical practice to treat pain with anti-inflammatory drugs. But this short-term fix could lead to longer-term problems.

The study indicates that inflammation is a normal part of recovering from a painful injury and that inhibiting inflammation may result in more-difficult-to-treat chronic pain. Those medications offer relief from acute pain but may actually increase a person's chances of developing chronic pain.

By examining blood samples, researchers discovered that people whose low back pain was resolved had high inflammation driven by neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infection. Neutrophils dominate the early stages of inflammation and set the stage for repair of tissue damage. Inflammation occurs for a reason, and it looks like it's dangerous to interfere with it. The research team found that blocking neutrophils in mice prolonged pain in the animals up to 10-fold. Pain also was prolonged when the mice were given anti-inflammatory drugs and steroids. The analysis found that those taking anti-inflammatory drugs for pain were more likely to have pain 2 to 10 years later.