A 2016 study concluded that acetaminophen does not perform well for osteoarthritis patients, neither effectively alleviating pain nor enabling better range of motion. What are a few non-surgical methods of pain relief that work?

OTC medication: popularity exceeding effectiveness

Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs are part of the average American family. Amazingly, the typical household expenditure just on OTC medication is $338 annually, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

A top example of an OTC medication is the popular pain reliever and fever reducer acetaminophen. This drug is purchased by many of the 100 million Americans who are currently suffering with chronic pain. Unfortunately, testing of acetaminophen proves it is ineffective regardless the dose used, according to a Swiss big-data study featured in The Lancet.

Study: Acetaminophen not the right choice for OAacetaminophen

A team of researchers from the University of Bern “found that acetaminophen – also known as paracetamol – was only marginally better than a placebo for treating symptoms of the degenerative joint disease,” reports Medical News Today.

Lead author Dr. Sven Trelle and his team looked at the data from 74 clinical trials, allowing them to consider the information of nearly 59,000 osteoarthritis patients.

Beyond paracetamol, the researchers looked at 21 other pain medication options, many of which were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). All medications were compared to a placebo for both functional improvement and pain relief.

The researchers did find that every type of painkiller was more effective than a placebo; but the results for acetaminophen were still dismal. Patients did get some positive results, but its impact did not qualify as clinically effective – delivering a meaningful change, as described by patients.

“[P]aracetamol is often prescribed to manage long-term pain,” says Dr. Trelle. “However, our results suggest that paracetamol at any dose is not effective in managing pain in osteoarthritis.”

Non-surgical methods of pain relief

People are increasingly turning away from the side-effects of prescription or OTC medication in favor of non-surgical, non-drug treatment. Here are a few of the most effective treatments in that category, provided through physical therapy and other settings:

  • Exercise – By working your muscles, you can strengthen them and gradually recover pain-free use of your body. It improves circulation, in turn giving you access to more nutrients.
  • Manual therapies – These tactics adjust you into a more functional state by placing pressure on your body.
  • Thermotherapy – Heating and cooling are used in physical therapy to improve circulation and descrease inflammation, respectively.

Doctors, chiropractors & physical therapists

Are you suffering from osteoarthritis and need an alternative to acetaminophen? At Health Star Clinics, we offer the combined expertise of board certified doctors, award winning chiropractors and physical therapists. See our New Patient Promises.