Adverse Side Effects of MSDs’ Medications

Several medical and non-medical treatments can help you at different times and in different ways when experiencing musculoskeletal disorders. Although these treatments can help control symptoms like pain, swelling, and stiffness, none can cure MSDs completely; they only slow down the progression of your condition. This article provides practical information about MSD medications and their side effects. 


Oral Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs block specific enzymes involved in the inflammation process of inflammation. Consumers of NSAIDs may experience stomach problems – pain, nausea, and diarrhea. They would also be prone to the risk of gastrointestinal ulceration and bleeding. Although COX-2 inhibitors can reduce these risks, they can also cause long-term problems and lead to serious medical emergencies such as heart attacks.



Opioids, such as Endone (oxycodone) and OxyContin (extended-release oxycodone), can be beneficial for people with severe and persistent non-cancer pain. Opioids can lead to physical dependency or addiction. Some side effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and respiratory depression, will disappear with long-term use, but constipation persists. Other possible side effects include:

  • Euphoria, dysphoria, agitation, seizures, hallucinations
  • Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
  • Muscular rigidity and contractions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Non-allergic itching
  • Pupil constriction
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Urinary retention

Muscle Relaxants

Drowsiness is the main side effect of these medications. Also, carisoprodol (Soma) can cause dependency due to its conversion into a drug similar to barbiturates in the body; cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril) can cause dry mouth, constipation, confusion, and loss of balance; methocarbamol (Robaxin) makes the color of urine green, brown, or black; people with liver problems should take both metaxalone (Skelaxin) and chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte, DSC) with caution.


Anti-Anxiety Agents

Anxiety drugs are prescribed for those who suffer from anxiety and stress. There are different side effects for different anxiety-related medications. The most common side effects of anti-anxiety medications go as follows:

  • psychological changes
  • headache
  • nausea
  • visual problems
  • restlessness
  • nightmares
  • Chest pain
  • heart-pounding

Moreover, they can cause sedation if used with opioid analgesics or alcohol.


Antidepressants can help you cope with depression. But don’t forget that side effects are often part of the package. 
Some of the more traditional tricyclics antidepressants used for pain relief have anticholinergic side effects such as:

  • dry mouth
  • difficulty urinating
  • blurred vision
  • constipation
  • lower blood pressure
  • fast heartbeat
  • palpitations
  • weight gain
  • fatigue

The newer antidepressants, which are serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) with less risk of anticholinergic issues, have harmful side effects like:

  • Anorexia
  • Asthenia
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Ejaculatory difficulties
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Sweating


Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation. They include Prednisolone (prednisolone) and Hydrocortisone sodium succinate (hydrocortisone) and could even be injected directly into the joint. This type of medication would lead to the development of hypertension and swelling as well as some psychological disorders such as mood swings and delirium. Corticosteroid Liquid or Tablets – they could be used in the early stages of your condition to control inflammation and pain or prescribed if you’re going through a flare. . They can have side effects if used for long periods like:


  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bone death
  • Cataracts and glaucoma
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated blood sugar
  • Fluid retention
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Mood changes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight gain
  • Damage to local tissues

Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)

DMARDs such as Methoblastin (methotrexate), Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), and Salazopyrin (sulfasalazine) are medications meant to control an overactive immune system when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues – in and around joints – as would occur in some musculoskeletal disorders. They also help relieve pain, lessen inflammation, and prevent joint damage. This type of medication’s working mechanism focuses on modifying the disease’s process and managing the ensuing symptoms. It can take several months for any noticeable changes to occur, so it would be necessary to take other medications to control the pain experienced. Regular blood tests should be done to monitor the effects of the medications and the possible side effects.

Biologics and Biosimilars (bDMARDs)

 bDMARDs such as Humira (adalimumab) and Enbrel (etanercept), unlike similar drugs, are other disease-modifying drugs with a working mechanism focused on controlling the immune system and targeting specific damaged cells and proteins. They derive from a biological source like human cells, i.e. they are made of protein. bDMARDs are not prescribed for everyone due to their high cost and possible side effects.

Anti-Neuropathic Pain Medications

These medications include the more traditional anti-depressants like Endep (amitriptyline), anti-epilepsy medications like Lyrica (pregabalin), and some blood pressure medications. They affect the nervous system and reduce neuropathic pain caused by injury, disease, or dysfunction. Anti-neuropathic pain medications have significant side effects such as:

  • reduced concentration
  • sleepiness
  • weight gain

There are also other medications for MSDs that have negligible side effects, such as Osteoporosis medications, Antiresorptive, Anabolic medicines, Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and Supplements (calcium and vitamin D). Furthermore, there are also topical treatments that relieve pain, including rubs, gels, ointments, sprays, and creams. These treatments are applied directly to the skin and have two advantages, one being that the treatment is topical and the second one being the pleasure of receiving a mini massage. There are also a number of treatments that are non-medication based which are suggested prior to prescribing serious medication and taking more invasive measures. These could potentially include the following:

  • Light exercises for muscle strengthening and stretching
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Osteopathic manipulation
  • Therapeutic massage

Last Word

As a final word, although these medications have a wide range of benefits and pain-relieving effects, they have serious side effects that are dangerous for one’s health. In this post, we have provided comprehensive information regarding why you should avoid taking medicines.

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