Adverse Side Effects of MSDs’ Medications

There are several medical and non-medical treatments to 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 of them cures MSDs completely. They only slow down the progression of your condition. Besides, although these medications have a wide range of benefits and pain-relieving effects, they have serious side effects which are dangerous for one’s health. Below you will find some of the side effects of these medications:

  • Oral Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs block specific enzymes (cyclooxygenase or COX) that are involved in the 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.

  • Acetaminophen

They can cause liver damage, particularly if taken with alcohol.

  • Opioids

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 tends to persist. Other possible side effects include:

  • 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 balancemethocarbamol (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

Side effects of these agents include:

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

  • Antidepressants

Some of the more traditional tricyclics antidepressants used for pain relief have anticholinergic side effects such as:

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


  • Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are used to reduce inflammation. They include Predsolone (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:


  • 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 reduce or prevent joint damage. The working mechanism of this type of medication is focused on modifying the disease’s process and managing the ensuing symptoms. It can take several months for any noticeable changes to take place, 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 take effect on 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 some other medications for MSDs which have negligible side effects such as Osteoporosis medications, Antiresorptives, 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:

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