- Publish Date
- Thursday, 9 February 2017, 12:02PM
There's no point taking ibuprofen for your back pain - it doesn't work, new research suggests.
Common over-the-counter drugs only provide any form of relief to one in six patients, scientists have discovered.
In fact, adults taking the cheap pills are actually three times more likely to suffer from stomach ulcers, a study found.
Experts say the findings highlight the urgent need to look elsewhere for treatments to cure twinges in the back - with exercise being the only effective option.
Back pain is very common among adults and normally improves within a few weeks or months.
It is believed to affect four in five people at some point in their lifetime, with most cases being caused by lifting heavy objects or bending awkwardly.
However, recent research has found that paracetamol is relatively ineffective and opiods provide little benefit compared to placebo.
Exercises are considered the primary option for many sufferers, with stretches having proved to work in those plagued by the discomfort.
This led scientists from the George Institute for Global Health in Australia to assess the effects of other drugs in treating back pain.
They examined 35 trials involved more than 6,000 patients taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.
Adults using the common medication were nearly three times more likely to suffer from stomach ulcers and bleeding.
Study author Professor Manuela Ferreira said 'Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide and is commonly managed by prescribing medicines such as anti-inflammatories.
'But our results show anti-inflammatory drugs actually only provide very limited short term pain relief.
'They do reduce the level of pain, but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance.
'When you factor in the side effects which are very common, it becomes clear that these drugs are not the answer to providing pain relief.'
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