Paracetamol ‘useless’ in treating osteoarthritis pain

“Paracetamol is next to useless at alleviating arthritic pain,” The Times reports. A comprehensive review of existing data suggests paracetamol should not be used in cases of osteoarthritis as there are far more effective treatments available.

Osteoarthritis is now the leading cause of joint pain and stiffness in older people.

The review showed that paracetamol, at any dose, had a very low chance of improving pain linked to osteoarthritis (0-4% chance), despite being advised as the painkiller of first choice in current guidance.

In contrast, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) class of painkillers, such as diclofenac (150mg per day) and etoricoxib (30, 60 or 90mg per day) were found more likely to improve pain (between 95 and 100% likely) and were the top-ranked painkilling drugs.

A potential drawback to NSAIDs is that long-term use can trigger complications such as stomach ulcers, and, in rarer cases, heart failure.