Lumanity’s Steven Weisman and Giovanni Ciavarra have co-authored a new publication with Grant Cooper of the Princeton Spine and Joint Center on the use of naproxen sodium in the treatment of non-specific low back pain (LBP).

The article was published in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences and is available Open Access.

Non-specific low back pain (LBP) represents a challenging and prevalent condition that is one of the most common symptoms leading to primary care physician visits. While established guidelines recommend prioritizing non-pharmacological approaches as the primary course of action, pharmacological treatments are advised when non-pharmacological approaches are ineffective or based on patient preference. These guidelines recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or skeletal muscle relaxers (SMRs) as the first-line pharmacological options for acute or subacute LBP, while NSAIDs are the exclusive first-line pharmacological option for chronic LBP. Although SMRs are generally effective for acute LBP, the available evidence does not support the view that they improve functional recovery, and their comparative efficacy to NSAIDs and other analgesics remains unknown, while studies have shown them to introduce adverse events without significantly reducing LBP. Moreover, opioids continue to be widely prescribed for LBP, despite limited evidence for effectiveness and known risks of addiction and overdose. Broader use of non-opioid pharmacotherapy, including the appropriate use of OTC options, is critical to addressing the opioid crisis. The balance of evidence indicates that NSAIDs have a favorable benefit-risk profile when compared to other available pharmacological treatment options for non-specific LBP, a condition that is primarily acute in nature and well-suited for self-treatment with OTC analgesics. While clinical guidelines do not differentiate between NSAIDs, evidence indicates that OTC naproxen sodium effectively relieves pain across multiple types of pain models, and furthermore, the 14-h half-life of naproxen sodium allows sustained, all day pain relief with reduced patient pill burden as compared to shorter acting options. Choosing the most appropriate approach for managing LBP, including non-pharmacological options, should be based on the patient’s condition, severity of pain, potential risks, and individual patient preference and needs.