Laxatives may be used in conjunction with back pain medications to prevent constipation as part of your lower back pain relief and pain management plan.

Back Pain Laxatives

For Side Effects of Back Pain Medications

Laxatives aid in inducing bowel movement. Laxatives are used to relieve and prevent constipation which may occur as a side-effect of some back pain medications. Laxatives may be prescribed as a supplement to your back pain treatment plan.

Stimulant laxatives are available in liquids, powders, granules, tablets and suppositories. Take stimulant laxatives on an empty stomach with a full 8-ounce glass of water. Results occur more slowly if the medicine is taken with food. Follow directions on the label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take only as directed.

REMINDER: You should always talk to your doctor before beginning a new medication regimen. These suggestions do not to substitute for medical advice. Please consult your physician.

Types of Laxatives

Bisacodyl

Brand Name(s): Carter's Little Pills, Dulcolax, Fleet Laxative

Relieves: Short term constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Bisacodyl increases volume of fluid in the intestines to promote passage of stool.

Side Effects

  • Common: abdominal cramping, diarrhea
  • Less common: nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, rectal pain, bleeding, burning, itching
  • Serious: severe abdominal pain

Note: Do not take for more than one week, unless advised by your doctor. Excessive use may cause loss of body fluid.

Castor Oil

Brand Name(s): Fleet flavored Castor Oil, Kellogg's Castor Oil

Relieves: Short-term constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Castor oil stimulates muscle contraction in the walls of the bowel.

Side Effects

  • Common: laxative dependence, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea
  • Less common: fatigue, weakness
  • Serious: confusion, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps

Note: The effects of castor oil are typically more immediate than other laxatives. Do not take before bedtime. Do not take for more than three to five days, unless your doctor advises otherwise.

Docusate

Brand Name(s): Colace

Relieves: Constipation, useful in persons who should not strain during bowel movements

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Docusate draws liquid into stools, forming a softer mass.

Side Effects

  • Common: abdominal cramping, diarrhea
  • Less common: throat irritation, laxative dependence
  • Serious: severe abdominal cramping

Note: Do not take for more than one week, unless your doctor advises otherwise. Overuse may cause physical dependence and may damage the nerves, muscles and other tissues of the bowel. Do not use in conjunction with mineral oil.

Glycerin

Brand Name(s): Fleet Babylax, Fleet Glycerine

Relieves: Constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Glycerin draws water into the intestine, softening stools and inducing the urge to defecate.

Side Effects

  • Common: abdominal cramping
  • Less common: rectal pain, itching, burning

Note: Chronic use of Glycerin may lead to laxative dependence.

Lactulose

Brand Name(s): Chronulac, Duphalac, Enulose

Relieves: Long term constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: No

Mechanism of action: Lactulose draws water into the bowel, loosens and softens stool, and stimulates bowel activity.

Side Effects

  • Common: diarrhea, intestinal cramps, increased thirst
  • Serious: weakness, confusion, muscle cramps

Note: Do not take for more than one week, unless your doctor advises otherwise. Overuse may cause dependence.

Magnesium Citrate

Brand Name(s): Citrate of Magnesia, Citroma

Relieves: Short-term constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Magnesium Citrate draws liquid into intestine, forming a softer mass and inducing the urge to defacate.

Side Effects

  • Common: cramping, diarrhea, gas, increased thirst
  • Less common: sweating, weakness
  • Serious: confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness, skin rash, difficulty swallowing

Note: This medication is intended for short-term use. Overuse may cause laxative dependence. Magnesium Citrate produces watery stools, therefore should not be taken when it will interfere with sleep or other activities. Do not take within two hours of taking other medications. Avoid ingesting alcohol.

Milk of Magnesia (Magnesium Hydroxide)

Brand Name(s): Phillips' Chewable, Phillips' Milk of Magnesia

Relieves: Upset stomach, constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: As an antacid, magnesium hydroxide neutralizes stomach acid. As a laxative, it attracts and retains water in the intestine and increases intestinal movement, stimulating the urge to defecate.

Side Effects

  • Common: nausea, diarrhea
  • Less common: increased thirst, whitish color to stools, abdominal cramps
  • Serious: dizziness, lightheadedness, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, unusual fatigue

Note: Do not take for more than two weeks, unless your doctor advises otherwise. Overuse may cause dependence. Magnesium hydroxide produces watery stools in 3 to 6 hours; therefore, plan sleep or other activities accordingly. Do not take within two hours of other medications.

Psyllium

Brand Name(s): Cillium, Naturacil

Relieves: Constipation and diarrhea

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Psyllium draws liquid into the intestines, forming a softer mass and stimulating the urge to defacate.

Side Effects

  • Less common: nausea, vomiting, partial intestinal obstruction, abdominal pain
  • Serious: difficulty breathing, intestinal blockage, rash, difficulty swallowing

Note: Do not take for more than one week, unless your doctor advises otherwise. Do not take any other medication within 2 hours of taking Psyllium. Drink six to eight glasses of water daily.

Senna

Brand Name(s): Correctol Herbal Tea, Senokot

Relieves: Constipation, particularly when caused by narcotic analgesics

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: Senna stimulates water and electrolyte secretion in the intestine to induce defecation.

Side Effects

  • Common: cramping, diarrhea, nausea
  • Less common: none
  • Serious: confusion, cardiac irregularities, muscle cramps, weakness

Note: Do not take for more than one week, unless advised by your doctor. Overuse may cause dependence. Do not take other medications within two hours. Eat increased amounts of vitamin D and folic acid.

Sodium Phosphate/ Sodium Biphosphate

Brand Name(s): Fleet, Fleet Phospho-Soda

Relieves: Constipation

Available Over-the-Counter: Yes

Mechanism of action: The laxative draws water into the intestine, increasing peristalsis and the urge to defecate.

Side effects

  • Common: cramping, diarrhea, gas
  • Serious: dizziness, confusion, lightheadedness, muscle cramps, tiredness

Note: Do not take for more than two weeks, unless your doctor advises otherwise. Overuse may cause dependence. This medication produces watery stools within three to six hours; therefore, schedule sleep and other activities accordingly. Do not take within two hours of other medications.

line

For more information on Back Pain Medications for Pain Management or for a consultation at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute please call:

281.44.NEURO (281.446.3876)