Those in the medical professions have long known that actually paracetamol is not an anti-inflammatory and therefore of less use than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) but it has continued to be propounded for pain by, amongst others, NICE, especially for those patients with stomach problems or other reasons to avoid NSAIDS. Cochrane are a great organisation who specialise in systematic reviews, looking at all of the available evidence, sifting, grading and weighting it and producing a definitive synthesis with a grading for how strong the evidence is. Recently they conducted a systematic review on how effective paracetamol is for acute low back pain...it isn't...at all and the evidence is strong, read the review here. A blog Cochrane have published by a major contributor goes further (here)...it appears that there is evidence for very little pain relief from paracetamol. There is some good news though (here), as I posted in an earlier blog, Cochrane studied topical NSAID gels of Diclofenac, Ibuprofen and Ketaprofen, and some Diclofenac patches provide effective pain relief...and of course won't irritate the stomach. So! If you have a bad back you might want to reach for the gel rather than a pill and if that doesn't work, of course, call for your osteopath.
Damian is the principal osteopath at Vauxhall Village Osteopathy and Oval Osteopathy