Paracetamol, Pain and Acupuncture

Since the arrival of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the West, pain alleviation or relief has been one of the regularly observed benefits of treatment with needles (Acupuncture TCM). A client with a main complain of, say, lower back pain, would, on arrival at the clinic of a PRTCM member, be given a full Chinese Medical diagnosis on the basis of which two or three specific acupuncture points might be selected. The needles would normally stay in place for about 20 minutes.

In light of this, the following news item on pain relief and paracetamol, reported in many Newspapers and News Reports, made interesting reading/listening this week. (Currently, the cost of such drugs represents a significant expense for the patient and/or the government and there is the added danger of drug side-effects from excessive or persistent use.)

The recent paper by Machedo and Colleagues1 examining the efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis, concludes:

“Paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and provides minimal short term benefit for people with osteoarthritis. These results support the reconsideration of recommendations to use paracetamol for patients with low back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee in clinical practice guidelines.”

Commenting on the above, an Editorial in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) 2 states:

“Ongoing and ever increasing concerns about pharmacological management of musculoskeletal pain highlights the importance of non-pharmacological options, which form the cornerstone of self management of spinal pain and osteoarthritis. NICE recommends that all patients with osteoarthritis should receive written information with advice about maintaining or increasing physical activity and optimising weight (if appropriate); exercise, manual therapy, acupuncture, and psychological support are also recommended for those with back pain.”

Citations: 

Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis,Machedo and Colleagues, 31 March 2015, BMJ 2015;350:h1225

Managing back pain and osteoarthritis without paracetamol 2 A BMJ Editorial by Christian Mallen, 31 March 2015, BMJ 2015;350:h1352

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