Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tylenol not effective for back pain or arthritis? Let's take a closer look..

"Popular painkiller doesn't help low back pain, arthritis, study finds."

How's that for a sensationalized title? Sure, that will grab your attention...but is it entirely truthful?

One way to know for sure is to read and interpret the source study.

Don't worry, because I've already done that for you. :)

Take-home points from the actual research article:

  • The BMJ (British Medical Journal) published a study in March 2015 evaluating the effectiveness and safety of paracetamol (ie Acetaminophen/Tylenol) on people with back pain and hip/knee arthritis.
  • They performed this study because acetaminophen prescription is "the most common approach to treatment used by general practitioners for spinal pain and osteoarthritis" 
  • This is a meta-analysis, which means the researches looked at select group of studies that had already been performed and compared the results. 
  • The studies were chosen so they could understand the medication's effects on pain and quality of life, as well as potential side effects. There were 12 studies used based on their criteria, including over 5300 patients
  • Their conclusions: 
    • Patients taking acetaminophen had little to no relief of pain or increase in quality of life for these two conditions. 
    • Patient's had higher risk of liver dysfunction/damage from the use of medication. The article states that patients using tylenol to manage these conditions "are nearly four times more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests."

What this means for you:

  • Doctors and researchers agree that there are many factors that can improve back, knee and hip pain, including
    • Strengthening exercises
    • Quitting smoking
    • Dietary changes
    • Proper ergonomics
    • Physical modalities, including Chirorpactic care, Acupuncture and Physical Therapy. 
  • Acetaminophen toxicity is the real deal, and accounts for "one-half of all cases of acute liver failure in the United States and Great Britain today." 
  • It's time to re-examine whether use of acetaminophen should be the first line of defense used by doctors for back pain and arthritis. 

Finally, something we can all agree upon!

Thoughts about this article? Want to share your personal experience with back pain, arthritis and acetaminophen? Leave a comment below!

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