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Paracetamol a key to keeping on top of back pain

Paracetamol a key to keeping on top of back pain

The best treatment for back pain could be simply something you pick up at the supermarket. That’s the message coming from international pain experts who say everyday paracetamol should be the first line treatment for moderate back pain.

A recent survey in Australia found that one in five Australians with back pain turned to anti-inflammatory medicines as their first choice medication despite guidelines that say paracetamol is a better option because it has few if any side effects when taken at recommended doses.2,3. Worse still, the survey found one in eight Australians with back pain resorts to bed rest, ignoring the importance of remaining active.3

Professor Andrew McLachlan from the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Sydney and Concord Hospital told the Symposium that better management of back pain in the community would lead to better outcomes, reduced impact on the health system and reduced side effects. He says that by not using proactive measure, such as physical movement and appropriate analgesics in the correct doses, sufferers may be setting the seed for further episodes.

Professor McLachlan says, “There is evidence of under-dosing with pain reliever medicines.3 It’s as if people think they can take a couple of paracetamol tablets today and the pain will be gone for the week. We want people to be using the right medicines, in the right doses over the appropriate time period. It’s all about maximizing the quality use of medicines.”

New Zealand has similar back statistics to Australia with eight in ten people saying they’ve suffered back pain 4. ACC has an injury prevention programme that encourages people to stand up to back pain5.

ACC Injury Prevention programme manager – Chris Polaczuk says, “keeping mobile is the best thing people can do for moderate back pain and taking the appropriate pain relief can help them get moving”.

“Extended periods of bed rest is the worst thing you can do when experiencing short term low back pain,” says Mr Polaczuk. “As well as keeping active, people should take pain relief such as paracetamol, regularly, up to the suggested dosage.”

The message is clear for many New Zealanders who suffer from back pain – take paracetamol as a first line pain reliever and keep moving.


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