Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the management of neck pain and associated disorders (NAD), whiplash-associated disorders, and non-specific low back pain (LBP) with or without radiculopathy.
Methods: We systematically searched six databases from 2000 to 2014. Random pairs of independent reviewers critically appraised eligible systematic reviews using the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network criteria. We included systematic reviews with a low risk of bias in our best evidence synthesis.
Results: We screened 706 citations and 14 systematic reviews were eligible for critical appraisal. Eight systematic reviews had a low risk of bias. For recent-onset NAD, evidence suggests that intramuscular NSAIDs lead to similar outcomes as combined manipulation and soft tissue therapy. For NAD (duration not specified), oral NSAIDs may be more effective than placebo. For recent-onset LBP, evidence suggests that: (1) oral NSAIDs lead to similar outcomes to placebo or a muscle relaxant; and (2) oral NSAIDs with bed rest lead to similar outcomes as placebo with bed rest. For persistent LBP, evidence suggests that: (1) oral NSAIDs are more effective than placebo; and (2) oral NSAIDs may be more effective than acetaminophen. For recent-onset LBP with radiculopathy, there is inconsistent evidence on the effectiveness of oral NSAIDs versus placebo. Finally, different oral NSAIDs lead to similar outcomes for neck and LBP with or without radiculopathy.
Conclusions: For NAD, oral NSAIDs may be more effective than placebo. Oral NSAIDs are more effective than placebo for persistent LBP, but not for recent-onset LBP. Different oral NSAIDs lead to similar outcomes for neck pain and LBP.
Keywords: Medication; Neck pain and associated disorders; Nonspecific low back pain; Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; Systematic review; Whiplash-associated disorders.