original abstract†Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate the efficacy and safety of paracetamol (acetaminophen) in the management of spinal pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
DESIGN: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase, AMED, CINAHL, Web of Science, LILACS, International Pharmaceutical Abstracts, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception to December 2014.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR SELECTING STUDIES: Randomised controlled trials comparing the efficacy and safety of paracetamol with placebo for spinal pain (neck or low back pain) and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee.
DATA EXTRACTION: Two independent reviewers extracted data on pain, disability, and quality of life. Secondary outcomes were adverse effects, patient adherence, and use of rescue medication. Pain and disability scores were converted to a scale of 0 (no pain or disability) to 100 (worst possible pain or disability). We calculated weighted mean differences or risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals using a random effects model. The Cochrane Collaboration's tool was used for assessing risk of bias, and the GRADE approach was used to evaluate the quality of evidence and summarise conclusions.
RESULTS: 12 reports (13 randomised trials) were included. There was "high quality" evidence that paracetamol is ineffective for reducing pain intensity (weighted mean difference -0.5, 95% confidence interval -2.9 to 1.9) and disability (0.4, -1.7 to 2.5) or improving quality of life (0.4, -0.9 to 1.7) in the short term in people with low back pain. For hip or knee osteoarthritis there was "high quality" evidence that paracetamol provides a significant, although not clinically important, effect on pain (-3.7, -5.5 to -1.9) and disability (-2.9, -4.9 to -0.9) in the short term. The number of patients reporting any adverse event (risk ratio 1.0, 95% confidence interval 0.9 to 1.1), any serious adverse event (1.2, 0.7 to 2.1), or withdrawn from the study because of adverse events (1.2, 0.9 to 1.5) was similar in the paracetamol and placebo groups. Patient adherence to treatment (1.0, 0.9 to 1.1) and use of rescue medication (0.7, 0.4 to 1.3) was also similar between groups. "High quality" evidence showed that patients taking paracetamol are nearly four times more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests (3.8, 1.9 to 7.4), but the clinical importance of this effect is uncertain.
CONCLUSIONS: Paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and provides minimal short term benefit for people with osteoarthritis. These results support the reconsideration of recommendations to use paracetamol for patients with low back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee in clinical practice guidelines.
These seven articles on PainScience.com cite Machado 2015 as a source:
- PS Pain & Injury Survival Tips — Dozens of ideas (and links) for evidence-based rehabilitation and self-treatment for common pain problems and injuries
- PS Icing for Injuries, Tendinitis, and Inflammation — Become a cryotherapy master
- PS Save Yourself from Low Back Pain! — Low back pain myths debunked and all your treatment options reviewed
- PS Complete Guide to Headaches — Detailed, readable, science-based self-help for tension headaches and other common musculoskeletal headaches
- PS Save Yourself from Neck Pain! — A complete guide to chronic neck pain and the disturbing sensation of a “crick”
- PS Heat for Pain — A detailed guide to using heat as therapy for acute and chronic pain
- PS Opioids for Chronic Aches & Pains — The nuclear option: “Hillbilly heroin” (Oxycontin), codeine and other opioids for musculoskeletal problems like neck and back pain
This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights:
- Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Munteanu 2015 Br J Sports Med.
- A Bayesian model-averaged meta-analysis of the power pose effect with informed and default priors: the case of felt power. Gronau 2017 Comprehensive Results in Social Psychology.
- The neck and headaches. Bogduk 2014 Neurol Clin.
- Agreement of self-reported items and clinically assessed nerve root involvement (or sciatica) in a primary care setting. Konstantinou 2012 Eur Spine J.
- Effect of NSAIDs on Recovery From Acute Skeletal Muscle Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Morelli 2017 Am J Sports Med.