Our paracetamol study in top 20 for GPs

Research by The George Institute for Global Health which revealed paracetamol does not relieve back pain has been highlighted as one of the top 20 studies of 2015 for GPs.

A team of primary care physicians scanned more than 110 English language clinical research journals to select the study by lead author Gustavo Machado, Professor Chris Maher and Associate Professor Manuela Ferreira.

It was judged to be amongst the top 20 studies worldwide that would have the “greatest clinical relevance for family physicians”, by addressing a primary care question.

Around 500 physicians sifted through the studies judging them on strict criteria including patient outcomes and the potential to change clinical practice.

The announcement was made in American Family Physician last week with back pain proving a popular topic with five studies selected.

The research by The George Institute showed that paracetamol was not only ineffective for treating lower back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, it may also affect the liver.  

The study published in The BMJ last year provided new evidence that paracetamol was no better at treating low back pain than a placebo and its effect on osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is too small to be clinically worthwhile.

Lower back pain is the leading cause of global disability and affects around 10% of the population at any one time. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and is the 11th high contributor to global disability.  

Lead author, Gustavo Machado of The George Institute and the University of Sydney says he hoped this announcement would renew impetus to review guidelines that still endorsed using paracetamol for lower back pain and osteoarthritis.

Paracetamol is still currently recommended by most international clinical guidelines as a first line treatment for low back pain and osteoarthritis.

However, work by The George Institute in this field recently resulted in a change in guidelines for the management of low back pain by the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Paracetamol is no longer endorsed for the treatment of lower back pain.