Acetaminophen for low back pain
How It Works
Acetaminophen is an analgesic, or pain
reliever. Acetaminophen does not reduce
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do.
Whether reducing inflammation helps people with low back pain is not
Why It Is Used
Acetaminophen is typically used for
mild to moderate pain.
How Well It Works
Acetaminophen helps relieve low back
pain in some people, especially mild or moderate pain that has lasted less than
3 months. Acetaminophen at recommended dosages is safer than some other
medicines. So many doctors suggest trying acetaminophen first to see if it
other pain medicines, acetaminophen works best if it is taken on a
regular schedule instead of only when pain is
Side effects of acetaminophen are rare.
Nausea and rash are the most common.
High doses of acetaminophen
can cause liver damage.
Reasons not to take acetaminophen
Do not take acetaminophen if you:
- Have kidney disease.
- Have liver
- Drink alcohol heavily (3 or more drinks a day).
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Acetaminophen can be used by people
whose stomachs cannot tolerate NSAIDs like aspirin or ibuprofen.
Acetaminophen is present in a lot of combination products, such as
Tylenol 3 and cold medicines. It is important to check all products you are
taking at one time to make sure that you don't take more than the recommended
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Chou R, Huffman LH (2007). Medications for acute and
chronic low back pain: A review of the evidence for an American Pain
Society/American College of Physicians clinical practice guideline.
Annals of Internal Medicine, 147(7):