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Published on : Jul 24, 2014

Paracetamol, which has long since been prescribed as a painkiller for severe low back pain, is no better than placebo; findings of a recent study in Australia have shown.

The trial that was published on Thursday found that the universally recommended painkiller neither speeds recovery nor reduces the pain. Paracetamol is merely acts as a placebo or dummy pills doing nothing to ease the discomfort. This means that patients will now reconsider using the pill as the first choice analgesic for lower back ache.

Lower back pain is one of the most common causes of disability across the globe, with more than USD 100 billion spent on this condition in a year in the U.S. alone.

Christopher Williams, who headed the study at the University of Sydney, said that paracetamol had been widely used for decades despite the fact that there was no evidence which stated that the pill acted as a painkiller for back ache.

The trial, conducted on 1,652 people suffering from acute lower back pain, showed that there was no difference in the level of relief experienced by those who received paracetamol and those who were administered placebo. Paracetamol had no effect whatsoever on pain levels, function, disability, sleep quality or quality of life of the patient. Moreover, the negative side effects experienced by both groups in the trial were similar.