Paracetamol – study shows ineffective and potentially dangerous

Recent research from the British Medical Journal shows that Paracetamol, one of the most common over the counter drugs used worldwide, is not only ineffective in dealing with back pain – but in some cases may even be dangerous.

High Level Evidence

back pain

At any one time, up to 13% of Australian adults will be experiencing back pain

The study looked at the use of Paracetamol for low back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. The study was a systematic review and meta-analysis, which means that it reviewed a number of research studies to arrive at their conclusions. This is considered the highest level of evidence. The results show paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and only provided minimal short term benefit for osteoarthritis. ‘Paracetamol has been widely recommended as being a safe medication, but what we are saying now is that paracetamol doesn’t bring any benefit for patients with back pain, and it brings only trivial benefits to those with osteoarthritis,’ says Gustavo Machado of The George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney.

Possible Liver Side Effects

Importantly, the new study was the first to show that patients using paracetamol for low back pain and osteoarthritis were nearly four times more likely than those taking placebo, to have abnormal results on liver function tests. One of the problems has been paracetamol can be found in pain medications, cough and cold drugs and other prescription drugs. Someone on multiple medications might be overdosing without realizing it. Machado says it’s unclear whether this means paracetamol could cause liver damage in the long term. ‘But if you see elevation of enzymes in the short term, it’s a concern for the long term,’ he says.

Safe Chiropractic Care and Exercise

Chiropractic care offers effective, drug-free treatment for back and neck pain. The Harvard Medical School, one of the world’s leading health research institutions, recently published advice that chiropractic care may be helpful for back pain, migraine, neck pain and whiplash. Gentle chiropractic care, combined with appropriate exercise, healthy living and natural pain reliving approaches, will be effective for most people with back and neck pain.