Paracetamol for back pain? Recently or in 2014 there was a paper in the lancet which suggested paracetamol was of almost no effect in the treatment of back pain. (The Lancet 2014; 384(9954): 1586-1596). https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/the-lancet/vol/384/issue/9954
Should I take paracetamol for my back pain?
Sifting through the evidence though it seems paracetamol may still have a place.
Paracetamol for low back pain has been an over the counter medication that has been used over years to help reduce low back pain. Studies have suggested that paracetamol is of little or no benefit to low back. These studies have not had many subjects in them to reach any definitive conclusion.
Recently studies have been done which was much larger where low back pain subjects were given ad hoc paracetamol for acute flare ups and some were given regular paracetamol.
The results showed that neither regular nor as required paracetamol improved recovery time as compared to a placebo. There was additionally no effect on function, disability or pain and as a result there was no symptom change in sleeping or quality of life. There was also no increase in recovery time.
However, looking more carefully at the results although paracetamol does not alter the recovery from back pain it is still “mildly useful” in helping pain on a short term basis including on an “as needed basis”.
I advise patients in pain to try and see if it helps as the great thing with paracetamol is that unlike anti-inflammatories, it does not cause heartburn or aggravate the stomach.
The more noteworthy aspect is that manipulation and or Acupuncture are both superior to just paracetamol and in many cases not only reduces pain quicker but also curtails a low back event enabling a patient to get back to normal activities quicker, and as a result not having to take any medication!
If you do suffer back pain give a call and help will be there to get you off your Paracetamol.