Paracetamol 'no better than placebo' for back pain

Over the counter paracetamol is no more effective at relieving back pain than a placebo, a study has found. Scientists in Australia found patients' back pain did not cease any faster if they took either paracetamol or a useless substitute.

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Doctors 'need to reconsider' paracetamol for back pain

Doctors "need to reconsider" the "universal recommendation" of paracetamol when treating patients with lower back pain, a science chief has said.

Dr Christopher Williams, of the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, who led research into the effectiveness of paracetamol in the treatment of back pain said:

Simple analgesics such as paracetamol might not be of primary importance in the management of acute lower back pain.

The results suggest we need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol as a first-line treatment for low-back pain, although understanding why paracetamol works for other pain states but not low-back pain would help direct future treatments.

– Dr Christopher Williams

Paracetamol 'no better than placebo' for back pain

Paracetamol is no faster at relieving back pain than a placebo, a study has found.

Patients who took part in the study also received "advice and reassurance" and follow-up assistance for three months. Credit: PA

Researchers in Australia found patients who were given over the counter paracetamol to treat back pain responded as quickly as those given a useless substitute.

The study, published in the Lancet, analysed 1,652 people with acute low-back pain at 235 care centres in Sydney, Australia.

They randomly received one of three treatments, up to four weeks of paracetamol in regular doses, paracetamol as they needed it or a placebo.

Scientists urged doctors to look at whether paracetamol should be the first port of call for back pain sufferers.


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