I bet if you would look in most medicine cabinets you would find some Tylenol or acetaminophen. We love it.

But this new research in the British Medical Journal says maybe we should end that love affair. It looks at 13 studies and more than 5,000 people who had low back pain or arthritis in the knees or hips. It finds those who took the real stuff versus placebo had no difference in pain relief. They basically got very little — if any — pain relief.

Tylenol- courtesy Dr Dave Hnida

Tylenol- courtesy Dr Dave Hnida

The researchers did not compare acetaminophen to aleve or ibuprofen, it should be noted. Nor did it look at the effectiveness of acetaminophen if you have a headache or some other pain.

Whatever the case, if you believe what this research says and you decide that you’re never going to pop a Tylenol again, what can you do if you crank your back or can’t uncreak a creaky joint?

Some thoughts:

Keep moving — in most cases, bed rest is evil if you have back pain, it causes more stiffness and prolongs your recovery. Range of motion and movement are also good for stiff joints.

Ice or heat? Your choice. Both can be effective.

Do not smoke. Smokers have five times the rate of persistent back and joint pain. it cuts oxygen flow to the injured or angry area.

Walking is good, sitting is bad. In fact running on concrete puts less pressure on a disk in the back than sitting at a desk.

Manipulation, chiropractic and acupuncture can be helpful.

Back braces are not.

Make sure your muscles are strong. That will take the pressure off of a joint that doesn’t want to bend.

Here’s my advice: This one study is not the final word. Every medicine works differently for everyone, and if you find Tylenol helps, use it.

It’s easier on the stomach and mixes well with other medications.

Taken as directly it is generally not harmful.

But keep in mind one thing: the best medicine tends to be no medicine. If you can avoid drugs, that’s great. And remember to keep active and moving. A rusty body tends to be an angry body. But don’t chuck the Tylenol just yet.

Dr. Dave Hnida blogs about the latest studies and trends in the health world. Read his latest blog entries, check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @drdavehnida


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