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Medications Safe for Back Pain During Pregnancy

By Sarah Harding ; Updated June 13, 2017

One of the earliest symptoms of pregnancy is a backache. The American Pregnancy Association points out that while this is an early sign of pregnancy, a dull ache in the lower back can persist until delivery. There are several ways a woman can soothe her back pain without the use of medication. But when the pain is moderate or persistent, a health care provider may recommend an over-the-counter or prescription-strength medication.


American Family Physician marks acetaminophen as the pain reliever of choice during pregnancy. It is classified as a FDA Category B risk for use during pregnancy, which means either no fetal risk was shown in animal studies or that the fetal risks were not found during human fetal studies. It is important to use only regular acetaminophen at the lowest effective dose. Exceeding the recommended dosing is especially risky during pregnancy.


Ibuprofen, while also a Category B risk, should be taken only when acetaminophen is not tolerable or when a medical care provider recommends it. It should not be taken at all in the third trimester, when it becomes a Category D risk, meaning positive evidence exists that a human fetus is at risk when this drug is used. American Family Physician urges mothers to use ibuprofen with caution, meaning it is best to avoid the drug if at all possible.


Oxycodone is a prescription pain reliever that is effective in treating moderate-to-severe back pain. This drug is an opioid and can become addictive. OB Focus reports that oxycodone has a Category B rating for safety. Some variations of oxycodone include a tablet that contains both oxycodone and acetaminophen.

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