Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Paracetamol, spinal pain, and osteoarthritis

Danger of generalising findings on paracetamol for low back pain

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 28 April 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2220
  1. Rosalind Adam, general practitioner (special interest in pain management)1
  1. 1Great Western Medical Practice, Aberdeen AB15 7YT, UK
  1. rosalindadam{at}

Machado and colleagues state that “paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain” and base this conclusion on the analysis of three placebo controlled trials.1 One of these trials has been retracted from the European Journal of Anaesthesiology.2 3

The two remaining trials assess the efficacy of paracetamol in younger patients, mostly under 55 years of age, who have moderate to severe low back pain of less than six weeks’ duration.4 5 Care should be taken about generalising these findings to older patients and to those with chronic or persistent back pain, in whom satisfactory pain control can be particularly challenging to achieve.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2220


  • Competing interests: None declared.


View Abstract

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription