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Paracetamol for back pain?

6 August 2014 No Comment

I guess a lot of you saw the recent articles (such as this one in The Australian) questioning the effectiveness of Paracetamol for back pain. This is newsworthy because it is probably the first thing a doctor would recommend for back pain, so we want to know if it actually works. It has very few side effects, if any, so it’s almost certainly not going to be dangerous to take, but according to this new research, there may not be much point.

The study in question looked at 1,600 people with acute low back pain and gave them either paracetamol (and quite a bit of it) or a placebo.

Their findings: “Those on paracetamol got better after 17 days while those who took dummy pills recovered after 16 days. The study focused on the kind of back pain most people experience, resulting from lack of exercise, bad posture, or a strain.

I would say results vary for different individuals – some people find it helps them and others don’t. It depends on what the specific problem is; often people will find that after getting a treatment paracetamol suddenly becomes a lot more effective. In other words, once the source of pain has been addressed. I don’t think there’s any problem trying it for a couple of days – if you find it isn’t really working then you can just stop taking it.

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