Paracetamol is ineffective at treating back pain and osteoarthritis despite being a recommended treatment

The headlines this month “Paracetamol is ineffective at treating back pain and osteoarthritis despite being a recommended treatment, a group of Australian researchers has warned” will come as no surprise to the hundreds of our patients who have tried the drug and found it provided little relief for their back pain.

The research published in the British Medical Journal is a review of 13 clinical trials and shows that paracetamol for back pain does not reduce disability or improve quality of life. In the light of this the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will review its guidelines on the use of paracetamol for back pain which it currently recommends.

Dr Christian Mallen from Keele University has correctly pointed out that treatment options other than drugs should be the “cornerstone” of the management of such conditions. NHS Choices underline this by stating that there is there is good evidence that osteopathy is effective for the treatment of persistent lower back pain.

Research shows that exercise is important in the management of back pain and the Charity BackCare recommend combining exercise with manual treatment. Acupuncture is also recommended for chronic low back so it’s really good to see that the integrated approach we have been offering at the clinic for over 30 years is now being shown to be the right one.