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News2014July › Paracetamol no better than placebo for lower back pain › July 2014

Paracetamol no better than placebo for lower back pain

Paracetamol is the world's most popular painkiller for lower back pain-but a new study has discovered it doesn't work

Paracetamol is the world's most popular painkiller for lower back pain-but a new study has discovered it doesn't work. It's no better than a placebo, or dummy pill, and doesn't help reduce pain, disability, poor sleep, mobility or overall quality of life.
Yet, astonishingly, it's the first choice of doctors and patients alike, and is included in most of the developed world's clinical guidelines for treating acute lower back pain, even though no studies have ever shown that it is effective.
When researchers from the PACE (Paracetamol for Low-Back Pain) study group tested the drug on a group of 1,652 patients with lower back-pain, they discovered it didn't outperform a placebo, or dummy pill, that some of the group was given instead. In fact, patients who took the placebo were better a day sooner than those given paracetamol.
Those given the drug took it three times a day for up to four weeks, and yet it couldn't help the problem, or any of the issues associated with back pain, including mobility, lack of sleep and pain itself.
(Source: Lancet, 2014; doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60805-9)

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