Sciatica Medications: Acetaminophen and NSAIDS

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A swig of water can make the pill go down and banish your sciatic pain. But is it that easy? Can you pop a magic pill in your mouth to solve your sciatica pregnancy woes–and do you really want to? Although there is over-the-counter and prescription medicine available to sciatica sufferers, there is a lot to consider when contemplating taking medications, especially because you are pregnancy. Introducing drugs to the body not only exposed you but also the baby to whatever is inside. Before you rush to the store to buy a package of acetaminophens or NSAIDs, both good sciatica medications, consult a doctor to help you decide if it is best method of sciatica relief for you.

Acetaminophens versus NSAIDS

Acetamin-what? Acetaminophen, such as Tylenol, are drugs that can help reduce the pain of sciatica.  After you swallow this type of pain reliever, it goes to the brain, working there to decrease your sciatic  symptoms. Side effects of acetaminophens include liver damage, if taken in excess. Acetaminophens should also not be taken after your sciatica pain subsides.

On the other hand, NSAIDs, short for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a double-edged sword: they relieve both pain and inflammation. These drugs work by reducing sciatic nerve inflammation. They also have fewer risks than other anti-inflammatory agents, such as aspirin, which puts you at a greater risk for gastrointestinal problems (e.g. ulcers). NSAIDs include ibuprofin (Aleve, Motrin), naprozen (Aleve) and COX-2 Inhibitors (prescription drugs like Bextra or  Celebrex). Due to the different groups of drugs that fall under the same name of NSAIDS, it is important to discuss your different options with a health care professional, as their side effects and benefits vary.

Stronger medications for the treatment of sciatica during pregnancy may be available based on your needs.

How Do I Choose?

Simple: Let your doctor decide which medication–if any–you should take to treat your sciatica. However, here are a few sneak peeks at what he might say:

1. You Might not Have to Make a Decision:  Acetaminophen and NSAIDs work separately in the body, not interacting or conflicting with one another. Therefore, both drugs can be taken simultaneously or you can switch back and forth between them (i.e., NASAID followed by acetaminophen).

2. Rate Your Pain: Because sciatica pain during pregnancy usually begins in the third trimester and ends with when you give birth, many doctors will ask if you can endure the pain for that short while. Less severe sciatica pain may also be more easily solved by a simple lifestyle change rather than dealing with medication side effects and risks. Based on the level of pain you are experiencing, your doctor may be able to suggest a less complication solution. 

3. Have Your Tried Other Treatment Methods?: Is mixing and matching pills really the way to go? Especially since you are pregnant, you want to be careful about filling your body–and thus the baby’s body–with foreign substances like medications. So, remember that choosing neither acetaminophen nor NSAID is an option; putting both boxes of pills back and stepping away may be your best bet. With a variety of other natural ways to reduce the pain your experience from sciatica–from lifestyle alterations to pain reduction techniques–you do not have to take medication to solve your sciatica troubles. Make sure you consider your other options before you swallow a pill. When in doubt, pick none.



No matter what you decide, make sure you make an informed decision. After all, you and your baby’s health is at risk when you throw medications into the pregnancy equation.


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