Paracetamol, or acetaminophen, was initially introduced in the late 1800s and has become the most commonly prescribed medication for fever and pain in the United States. It is one class of medications recommended by the American College of Rheumatology for patients with arthritis who have not responded favorably to weight loss and Physical Therapy. Although a relatively inexpensive and commonly prescribed medication recent research has demonstrated the harmful effects of acetaminophen when combined with other pain medications which may also contain the same drug. A recent Cochrane Review of the evidence analyzed acetaminophen’s effects on patients with hip or knee arthritis.
Leopoldino and colleagues reviewed 10 randomized placebo controlled trials of 3541 patients with either hip or knee arthritis (Cochrane Review. 2019). Patients within these trials were followed for up to 24 weeks to determine the impact of the medication on pain, activity, and adverse events. Authors reported at 3 and 12 week follow there was high quality evidence that acetaminophen provided no clinically important improvements in pain and physical function. No increased risk of adverse events was found among the medication vs. placebo patients. Patients with knee or hip arthritis should follow up with their physician before making any medication decisions.