Back pain, lower back pain, knee pain and osteoarthritis are common problems affecting millions of people each year. The solution – paracetamol?
No, no and no!
Paracetamol, usually prescribed by GPs to treat those conditions, is revealed to be neither effective nor safe.
A study carried out by the University of Sydney, and published in the British Medical Journal in February 2015 concluded that paracetamol does not decrease disability or improve quality of life for people affected by those issues – making it an ineffective treatment method for such conditions.
What it does, however, is increase the risks of liver toxicity and associated problems.
The use of other drugs, like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids, may help with pain relief but again, come along with a host of side-effects, explains Professor Roger Knaggs from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in the UK.
So why are drugs prescribed to us when we know they can be harmful, let alone ineffective?
According to Philip Conaghan, Professor of musculoskeletal medicine at Leeds University, “GPs feel they are a bit undereducated in musculoskeletal problems and arthritis treatment”.
What really should be done to treat musculoskeletal disorders is adopting a non-drug, exercise-oriented approach that is both safer and more effective.
Strengthening muscles around joints, for instance, will already reduce knee pain by 30%, asserts Professor Conaghan.
Jane Tadman from Arthritis Research UK also confirms that “physical activity is probably a better and more effective way of keeping the pain of arthritis and joint pain at bay than taking currently available painkillers.”
The NHS advisory board will now review its guidelines. To read more about this study ‘Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials’, please visit http://www.bmj.com/content/350/bmj.h1225.
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