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Acetaminophen is an analgesic, or pain reliever. Acetaminophen does not reduce inflammation, as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do. Whether reducing inflammation helps people with low back pain is not known.
Acetaminophen helps relieve low back pain in some people, especially mild or moderate pain that has lasted less than 3 months. Acetaminophen at recommended dosages is safer than some other medicines. So many doctors suggest trying acetaminophen first to see if it helps.1
Like other pain medicines, acetaminophen works best if it is taken on a regular schedule instead of only when pain is severe.
Side effects of acetaminophen are rare. Nausea and rash are the most common.
High doses of acetaminophen can cause liver damage.
Reasons not to take acetaminophen
Do not take acetaminophen if you:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Acetaminophen can be used by people whose stomachs cannot tolerate NSAIDs like ASA or ibuprofen.
Acetaminophen is present in a lot of combination products, such as Tylenol 3 and cold medicines. It is important to check all products you are taking at one time to make sure that you don't take more than the recommended dosage.
Last Revised: April 8, 2012
This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.