Tylenol has long been one of people’s go-to medications when they’re in pain, but a startling new study has found that acetaminophen (the actual name of the drug in Tylenol) doesn’t actually relieve certain types of pain.
The study, which was published in last month’s issue of the BMJ, was conducted by researchers at The George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney in Australia. According to CBS News, the researchers reviewed 13 previous studies on the use of acetaminophen as a drug for the relief of pain. What they found was that it isn’t actually very effective for arthritis or lower back pain.
Americans spend about $86 billion on neck and back pain each year, partly on medicines like Tylenol and generic versions of acetaminophen. This is partly because more than 26 million Americans suffer from back pain and it’s the leading cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45. But it might also be because the medicine isn’t working.
Clinical guidelines actually recommend the use of acetaminophen for the first-line treatments for back pain and arthritis. The new study looked at 10 studies in which acetaminophen was used to treat arthritis, and three in which it was used to treat back pain.
In patients who were suffering from lower back pain, the drug was found to be ineffective in treating their pain and improving their quality of life. In patients who were suffering from arthritis and were prescribed the drug, the effect was only minimal and not enough to qualify as a clinically important improvement.
The researchers suggests that people who suffer from arthritis and back pain should exercise and stretch often rather than turning to other medications to help manage and prevent pain due to arthritis or back pain.
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