Pregnancy means paracetamol is pretty much your only pain relief option, but new research suggests it has little effect when it comes to back pain.
Paracemetal does not provide pain relief for lower back pain and is no better than a ‘dummy pill’, according to new research published in The Lancet.
A study of 1,650 people in Australia who had experienced back pain for six weeks or less, showed that paracetamol didn't reduce the intensity of the pain or make it easier to sleep
The patients were divided into three groups: A third received regular doses of paracetamol, a third took the drug as needed and a third were given a dummy pill (placebo) for one month.
The results showed that paracetamol did not reduce the intensity of the pain, nor did it improve sleep quality, and scientists found there was no difference in recovery time for all three groups – an average of 17 days.
Lead author Dr Christopher Williams, from the University of Sydney, says, ‘The results suggest we need to reconsider the universal recommendation to provide paracetamol as a first-line treatment. [for back pain].
Unlike headaches, toothaches and post-surgery discomfort, where paracetamol proved effective, researchers believe that the mechanisms behind lower back pain may differ to those in pain felt in other conditions.
As people in the trial recovered more quickly than those in some previous studies, the researchers suggest the reassurance provided during their trial may be more effective than medication.
About 26 million people suffer from lower back pain each year in the UK, and it remains a leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the BBC.
For pregnant women who rely on paracetamol for back pain relief, as ibruprofen is not advised, the new research is particularly worrysome.
‘As your uterus grows, your pelvic bone joints relax, which can also cause pain in your lower back,’ Midwife and author of My Mini Midwife Denyse Kirkby said.
She advises that comfortable shoes and good posture may help, but ‘regular, gentle exercise may relieve your backache and prevent it coming back, more than anything else.’
‘Strong muscles can take more stress before they become strained,' she added.
Do you suffer from lower back pain – and how to you ease it? Let us know below.