Acetaminophen no better for back pain than placebo, researchers report
LONDON — Acetaminophen isn't any better at relieving back pain than a fake pill, despite almost universal recommendations to take the drug, according to the first big trial to test it.
Acetaminophen, sold as Tylenol and Paracetamol, among other names, is recommended in numerous guidelines for back pain, mainly because it has few side effects; past studies have shown it works for other types of pain. But there is no proof it is effective for lower back pain in particular.
In a study, Australian researchers assigned more than 1,600 people with acute lower back pain to either acetaminophen — to a maximum dose of 4,000 mg per day — or a placebo. Scientists found no major difference in the time it took people to recover: Those on acetaminophen got better after 17 days, and those who took dummy pills recovered after 16 days.
The research was financed by the Australian government and GlaxoSmithKline Australia. It was published online on Wednesday in the journal The Lancet.
Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and doctors usually recommend treatments including painkillers, exercise, stretching, physical therapy and old-fashioned remedies such as hot and cold packs.
Some doctors said it was too early to give up on acetaminophen and added most people would get better within a week or two whatever treatment they tried.
“Different strategies will work for different patients,” said Dr. Nigel Mathers, honorary secretary of Britain's Royal College of General Practitioners. “If (acetaminophen) works for you, then continue to take it.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Guatemala president resigns amid corruption probe
- Fake Pakistani IDs card found to be ally for terrorists
- Beirut protests grow as summer garbage crisis lingers
- Pakistan allows gathering of 1,000 Taliban amid leadership rift
- Hungary stands firm, keeps migrants from trains
- China plans display of might with parade