Low back pain and paracetamol by Osteopath Lachlan White

It is expected that 70-90% of people will suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives.

Low back pain can be a significantly debilitating experience and commonly affects a person’s ability to complete simple tasks, such as getting dressed, getting out of bed or walking a short distance. It also has the potential to burden those who care for low back pain sufferers.

Paracetamol is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for relieving low back pain – but is it really effective?

Significant research has recently been conducted in this area and has revealed some surprising insights.  The British Medical Journal (BMJ) found paracetamol to be ineffective for reducing low back pain intensity and improving quality of life. Evidence also indicates that people consuming paracetamol are four times more likely to have altered liver function due to the body’s metabolism of the drug.

When compared to placebo (a dummy pill), paracetamol has been shown to have the same effects on pain, function, sleep and quality of life – no improvement. 

So as a sufferer of low back pain, where does this leave me?

In some cases, anti-inflammatories or other forms of pain medication are more likely to be effective. There are also many other self-management strategies which may assist in managing low back pain.

Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy within the Allied Health profession which can help diagnose, treat and manage low back pain. By using a range of safe and clinically effective treatment techniques tailored to the individual, it can relieve pain, improve mobility and strength, and increase performance. Osteopaths are also able to prescribe rehabilitation programs, provide advice regarding common medications, prescribe other self-management strategies and assist with any other problems that you may be experiencing.

To discuss this further contact CSSM on 9889 1078.  

About the author:

Lachlan White is a registered Osteopath. He has an interest in treating patients with acute and chronic pain conditions, including headaches, neck and back pain and assisting in the management of chronic and degenerative disease.


Back problems. (2017). Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved 20 March 2018, from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/arthritis-other-musculoskeletal-conditions/back-problems/what-are-back-problems

Machado, G., Maher, C., Ferreira, P., Pinheiro, M., Lin, C., & Day, R. et al. (2015). Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials. BMJ350(mar31 2), h1225-h1225. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h1225

Williams, C., Maher, C., Latimer, J., McLachlan, A., Hancock, M., Day, R., & Lin, C. (2014). Efficacy of paracetamol for acute low-back pain: a double-blind, randomised controlled trial. British Dental Journal217(4), 183-183. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/sj.bdj.2014.732