Paracetamol as effective as a placebo for backaches: study

New study questions 'universal endorsement of paracetamol' for low-back pains.

Web Desk July 25, 2014

KARACHI: Taking regular paracetamol for backaches is just as effective as taking a placebo – or a sugar pill, a new study has revealed.

“Regular paracetamol is the recommended first-line analgesic for acute low-back pain; however, no high-quality evidence supports this recommendation,” the study published this week in a medical journal called The Lancet stated.

According to Time, 1,643 people with acute low-back pain were split into three groups, each given two boxes: one group received two boxes of 500-miligram [paracetamol] tablets, with instructions to use the second box “as needed’; the second group got a box of paracetamol and an as-needed box of placebos; and the third group received two boxes of placebos.

The study lasted three months, over the course of which researchers found no difference among the three groups. Subjects showed no variation in terms of pain, recovery time, function, disability, symptom change, sleep or quality of life. Around 75% of the participants were happy with their results, whether they had received placebos or not.

The study concluded, “Our findings suggest that regular or as-needed dosing with paracetamol does not affect recovery time compared with placebo in low-back pain, and question the universal endorsement of paracetamol in this patient group.”