Taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen together may be the perfect combination for back pain

AACHEN, Germany — Taking acetaminophen and ibuprofen appears to the best way to relieve the misery of back pain, a new study explains. Researchers in Germany say the over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is ineffective on its own against the world’s leading cause of disability which affects four in five adults. However, it rapidly reduces symptoms when patients combine the drug with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen.

“This is a first step towards the optimization of the management of acute low back pain,” says lead author Dr. Alice Baroncini of RWTH University Hospital in Aachen, Germany, according to a statement from SWNS. “However, specific patient characteristics such as having allergies and comorbidities must always be taken into consideration.”

An international team pooled data from 18 worldwide studies involving almost 3,500 individuals. Results show that the greatest improvement in pain symptoms came when people took acetaminophen (drugs like Tylenol) and NSAIDS in tandem. NSAIDs include drugs such as naproxen, diclofenac, and celecoxib.

Diclofenac (Voltaren)
(© Soni’s – stock.adobe.com)

Researchers believe the study in could lead to better back pain treatments. Estimates show that over 60 million Americans deal with episodes of back pain. Causes can range from a pulled muscle to a slipped disc.

Acute low back pain (LBP) imposes a significant socioeconomical burden as it is the condition that, worldwide, cause the most disability,” the researchers write in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.

Tylenol, acetaminophen
(© Radosław Brzozo – stock.adobe.com)

Unfortunately, study authors note previous research regarding the best management of pain is lacking and advice available in medical literature is conflicting. Dr. Baroncini and her colleagues investigated if medications can effectively reduce pain and disability and identified those which showed the most benefit. The analysis found muscle relaxants and NSAIDs were effective after about a week of taking the combo.

“The combination of NSAIDs and paracetamol was associated with a greater improvement than the use of NSAIDs alone, but paracetamol alone did not induce any significant improvement,” the team concludes.

Doctors say thousands of people over 65 are failing to manage the long-term condition. Back pain is the number one cause of years of living with disability.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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  1. Whenever I have back pain, I go a Chiropractor and when I leave, I don’t have back pain. I’ll pass on the drugs. I realize a lot of people don’t like Chiropractors, and I realize that most of those people have never been to one. During my 84 yrs., I’ve been to several Chiropractors. Maybe I was just lucky, and they were all excellent. I’ve also been to several drs. Maybe I was just unlucky and they were all incompetent. Quien Sabe?

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