Most people suffering from back pain and arthritis reach out for the paracetamol-but the drug doesn't work, new research has found.
The painkiller is no better than a placebo, or sugar pill, in alleviating low back pain, and is only marginally helpful in reducing pain from osteoarthritis, say researchers from the Sydney Medical School at Sydney University. The drug also failed to improve the quality of life of the users.
They re-examined the results from 13 trials on paracetamol (acetaminophen) and discovered it was ineffective in reducing pain intensity and disability in people with low back pain, and was only slightly effective in those with osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
Although adverse reactions were similar in those taking the drug or a placebo, those on paracetamol were nearly four times more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, although the researchers don't know whether this was a marker for serious reactions to the drug.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2015; 350: h12250