Over the years, many back pain sufferers have been prescribed one of the most commonly known pain medications – Acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol ®).
According to a systematic review and meta-analysis published by Australian researchers in the British Medical Journal on March 31, 2015, the value of Acetaminophen has long been exaggerated. Their research reveals that Acetaminophen has been shown to be ineffective for lower back pain and clinically insignificant as a relief from hip or knee osteoarthritis (OA). Furthermore, again according to that analysis, Acetaminophen has been shown to quadruple the risk of liver function abnormalities.
It is no surprise that on the basis of their analysis, the Australian researchers have suggested that Acetaminophen as the first choice for clinical treatment of both osteoarthritis and back pain should be questioned. Dr Bannuru of Tufts University recently reached similar conclusions in a meta-analysis of pharmacologic interventions for knee osteoarthritis.
Edward Michna, MD, Director of the Pain Trials Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and member of the American Pain Society Board of Directors, stated “… The problem is that patients, out of frustration and anxiety, will continue taking medications even if they don’t help, just so they feel they are doing something to treat their pain”.
Dr. Michna added, “If medications are not helping, they need to be stopped. Patients have to have this point reinforced. There is no point taking medications that are not helping and that could produce harmful effects”.
My own clinical experience and working with other manual therapists (including osteopath and physical therapists), have indicated that many sufferers are seeking alternative pain-relief choices.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Most osteoarthritis is due to overuse of the non-weight-bearing joints (shoulders, elbows and wrists) and misalignment of the weight-bearing joints (spine, hips and knees, etc).
Nobody wakes up one day with osteoarthritis. It develops over time. Patients need to be advised and their attitude reinforced by their primary care providers/physician that early postural training/exercises and proper footwear can avoid continuing development of arthritis.
Unless proper joint and postural alignment are taken care of, arthritic damaging to the joints will continue.