Latest News – BBC website 1 April 2015
Back pain is a leading cause of disability and in the UK alone it is estimated to affect 26 million people each year.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which establishes best NHS practice, currently recommends paracetamol for both lower back pain and for osteoarthritis. Anybody with concerns about whether taking paracetamol could cause harm should discuss their concerns with their GP or pharmacist
However, questions have been raised about the quality of the evidence which led to the decisions.
A team at the University of Sydney assessed data from 13 drug trials involving more than 5,000 patients.
They concluded that paracetamol was "ineffective" at reducing back pain.
In osteoarthritis in the hip or knee, they found a small improvement with paracetamol. Yet the impact was so small it was "not clinically important".
One of the leading researchers of this team was quoted on BBC Breakfast yesterday as saying Pilates would be a good activity for lower back pain.
If you do experience pain of any sort, do please seek advice from your GP or your health adviser.
Dr Christian Mallen, from Keele University in the UK, said options other than drugs should be the "cornerstone" of managing the conditions.
However, he added: "While the effectiveness of exercise for both osteoarthritis and spinal pain is established, we know that uptake of and adherence to exercise is poor."