News

Back pain trial tests paracetamol power


23 September 2010

Only a fraction of people with back pain are receiving the right treatment, according to the Sydney-based George Institute for Global Health.

A study of 570 Australians with back pain has shown that only 45 percent of people took paracetamol, which is widely recommended as the best initial treatment for new episodes of back pain. Of these 45 percent, less than one in five (18 percent) are taking the correct dosage of paracetamol. One in four Australians experience back pain, costing the economy in excess of $1 billion every year.

To help combat the back pain epidemic, the George Institute is calling for people with back pain who are living in Sydney to join a new clinical trial called PACE. The trial aims to improve the treatment of back pain and to find out if a new formulation of paracetamol speeds up recovery for people that have recently developed back pain.

Bradley Wells, 42, from Sydney and a recent participant in the trial has been a recent back pain sufferer. He explains, "One day I just woke up and there it was. My first instinct was to go to a physiotherapist but I found that it was not much help in treating the pain. It didn't even occur to me that taking paracetamol was the best treatment, but through participating in the trial I was able to follow the logic of 'you treat the pain and the back recovers'.

"I was a bit nervous about taking part in the trial and taking paracetamol as nobody likes to take pills, but my experience was brilliant. The trial is really professionally run and the result was that my back pain has pretty much gone completely. I know that I might have back pain again in the future, but my experiences on the trial helped me learn what to do if it reoccurs," said Mr Wells.

Professor Chris Maher, Musculoskeletal Director at the George Institute said, "The key to controlling back pain is to take an active approach to it early on. Avoiding bed rest and taking paracetamol correctly is by far the best starting point in treatment for the majority of cases of acute back pain.

"Once people get this care, other treatments like exercise or spinal manipulation therapy add cost but not benefit for most people with acute back pain," added Professor Maher.

More information on the PACE trial can be found on the George Institute website or by calling 8238 2434 or 8238 2412.


Media enquiries: Rachel Gleeson, 0403 067 342, 9351 4312, rachel.gleeson@sydney.edu.au