When low-back pain strikes (it hits about 80 percent of folks at least once) almost everyone is told to take a Tylenol and take it easy. But until now no one bothered to check if taking that pain reliever really made you feel better.
Seems for most folks, it does not. That was the conclusion of the Australian double-blind, randomized PACE study. The participants who took acetaminophen (or paracetamol, as they call it down under) three times a day, those who took it as needed and those who got a placebo reported no differences in pain and disability, symptom change, sleep or recovery time.
So where does that leave you and your aching lower back?
The good news is that most folks with low-back pain get well in six weeks whether they see a Labrador retriever or a neurosurgeon. One caution: If you have nerve-related symptoms, see a doctor pronto. And if pain persists longer than six weeks, see a specialist. In the meantime:
-Ease your discomfort by applying heat and cold packs (20 minutes each; two or three times daily).
-When seated, use a high-back chair with arm rests and good lumbar support; your thighs should be parallel to the floor.
-When standing, maintain a relaxed, balanced posture.
-Keep moving; for moderate to mild back pain, the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Spine Health says you should keep a near-normal schedule from the onset.
-Also, get physical therapy. You'll learn a simple exercise program that's designed to speed your recovery.
© King Features Syndicate