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Do Back Pain Drugs Work?

December 31, 2016
Plain English Version

back-pain-clipartDo the drugs work?  Tylenol, Anacin and Panadol are part of the acetaminophen family of drugs. Acetaminophens are used around the world. They are commonly used to relieve lower back pain.

A big study asked whether or not they really work. It involved the use of placebos. Placebos are harmless tablets. Subjects who take them in clinical tests think they are getting the actual drug being studied.

The study looked at the impact of acetaminophens on the length of recovery, amount of pain, and changes in symptoms, sleep or quality of life.

Researchers divided adults with back pain into three groups.

Group 1 got two boxes. The first contained 500-milligram acetaminophen tablets for daily use. The second contained “as needed” acetaminophen tablets in the same dosage.

Group 2 got two boxes. The first contained the acetaminophen tablets. The second box contained placebo tablets.

Group 3 got two boxes.  Both boxes contained placebo tablets.

The results of the study came in. The three-month study found no differences among the groups. Acetaminophens worked no better than the placebos.

Three out of every four patients were satisfied with their treatment. It did not matter whether they received medicine, medicine and placebos or just placeboes.

A researcher said that if people believe acetaminophens work for them, they should keep using them.

As of now, acetaminophens are still considered helpful for toothaches, headaches and pain after surgery. Lower back pain is different.

Source: The New York Times July 23, 2014

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