Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

In an editorial published in the BMJ on 31 March, SPCR members Professors Christian Mallen and Elaine Hay from Keele University comment on recent findings questioning the efficacy and safety of paracetamol in the treatment of spinal pain and osteoarthritis, findings that may prompt changes to clinical guidelines.


Christian and Elaine argue that this new evidence reopens the debate on the role of paracetamol as our first choice analgesic, and question our reliance on medication to manage these common musculoskeletal problems. They suggest alternative, safe and effective treatments be adopted, asserting that the challenge for healthcare practitioners and patients is how to ensure the longevity of exercise based self-management approaches. 

The challenge for patients, providers of healthcare, and policy makers is how to ensure access to, uptake of, and adherence to these self management approaches."
- Christian Mallen and Elaine Hay










Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials. Gustavo C MachadoChris G MaherPaulo H FerreiraMarina B PinheiroChung-Wei Christine LinRichard O DayAndrew J McLachlanManuela L Ferreira.

Read the editorial Managing back pain and osteoarthritis without paracetamol. Christian Mallen, Elaine Hay.

BMJ Press release

BBC news

Similar stories

Packing an emotional punch: Using theatre to raise awareness of doctors’ mental health

Dr Ruth Riley's SPCR funded qualitative study to explore the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking by General Practitioners with mental health problems was added to the NIHR website as a case study earlier this month.

Let’s Talk About Weight

SPCR doctoral student Charlotte Albury is a contributing author on the Public Health England's step-by-step guide to conversations about weight management with children and families for health and care professionals.