Tylenol for Back Pain? Does it Really Work?

2f03693A new Australian study found something remarkable about a popularly-prescribed pain medication, acetaminophen (Tylenol®). Recently published in The Lancet, the study compared the efficacy of acetaminophen and placebo (sugar pill) for reduction of lower back pain. 550 low-back pain participants were placed in a randomized, double –dummy, placebo-controlled trial which spanned 4 years across 235 primary care clinics in Sydney, Australia. The investigators sought to figure out how long it would take for patients to recover from their pain on either treatment.

The researchers found no difference between acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and placebo in regards to recovery time. In fact, the median recovery time for patients on placebo was 16 days compared to 17 days for those patients on acetaminophen.

While these results are interesting, more research should be completed before any conclusions should be made regarding the efficacy of acetaminophen for treatment of pain. Nonetheless, the treatment of chronic pain should include a comprehensive and personalized approach that includes exercise, physical therapy, acupuncture, and medications when necessary.

In our research, we are investigating the efficacy of muscle injections for chronic pain and fatigue. Additionally, we are using quantitative sensory testing (QST) for testing of pain and fatigue mechanisms. To get more information about our studies, please contact us at: 352-265-8901 or email us at painresearch@medicine.ufl.edu


Ricky Madhavan, BA

Senior Laboratory Technician

UF Center for Musculoskeletal Pain/Fatigue Research