Public health

Caution urged on generalising paracetamol findings

Wednesday, 29 Apr 2015

A GP with a special interest in pain management has urged caution on generalising the findings of a recent review on the use of paracetamol in low back pain.

In a letter to the BMJ Rosalind Adam from the Great Western Medical Practice in Aberdeen in the UK says that the conclusion by Machado and colleagues  from the George Institute for Global Health that “paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain” was based on the analysis of three placebo controlled trials, one of which has been retracted. 

The two remaining trials assessed the efficacy of paracetamol in younger patients, mostly under 55 years of age, who have moderate to severe low back pain of less than six weeks’ duration. 

“Care should be taken about generalising these findings to older patients and to those with chronic or persistent back pain, in whom satisfactory pain control can be particularly challenging to achieve,” she wrote.

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