Acetaminophen no better than placebo for acute low back pain

From Family Practice News, July 30 2014:

Acetaminophen taken regularly or as required was no better than placebo in improving time to recovery in patients with acute low back pain, Australian research shows.

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-dummy study in 1,643 patients presenting with acute low back pain found the median time to recovery was 17 days, both in patients assigned to 665 mg acetaminophen three times daily and in those told to take acetaminophen as required, and was 16 days in the placebo group.

After 12 weeks, similar numbers of patients in each group had achieved sustained recovery: 84.7% of participants taking regular acetaminophen, 82.8% of patients taking acetaminophen as required, and 84.3% of the placebo group.

Back pain sufferers might not find relief from acetaminophen, researchers said.

“The clinical implications of PACE [Paracetamol for Low-Back Pain Study] require careful consideration of the efficacy of paracetamol [acetaminophen] with respect to the safe use of medicines for low back pain,” the study authors wrote in the Lancet (2014 July 24 [doi:10.1016/ S0140-6736(14)60805-9]). Read more.

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