Paracetamol – does it work?

GO-TO-DRUG: But it probably doesn’t help chronic pain.

PARACETAMOL is often the go-to drug to treat and ease numerous ailments, but does it actually work? For the UK, an estimate of the amount of paracetamol sold is just under 6,300 tons a year, or around 70 paracetamol tablets per person every year. Around 200 million packs of paracetamol are sold without prescription in the UK every year, though sales fell after pack size restrictions, but evidence shows it probably does not work for chronic pain. Independent clinical trials and reviews show paracetamol to be no better than a placebo for chronic back pain or arthritis. Reviews from the Cochrane Library, a global independent network of researchers, professionals, patients, carers and people, shows that paracetamol can provide pain relief, but only for a small number of people. For post-operative pain, perhaps one in four people benefit; for headaches around one in 10.

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Marcos Javier Poyastro

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