The role of the pharmacist in low back pain management: A narrative review of practice guidelines on paracetamol vs Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
Low back pain (LBP) is a common and costly condition and a leading cause of disabilities across the globe. In Australia and other countries, there has been changes in LBP management guidelines and evidence in recent years, including the use of pharmacotherapy. Inadequately treated LBP is a burden with significant health and economic impacts. Although there is some variability, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have largely replaced paracetamol as the first-choice analgesic for non-specific LBP in many international clinical guidelines, including the current Australian Therapeutic Guidelines. More recent clinical evidence also supports that targeting LBP with the use of NSAIDs can provide superior and more effective relief of LBP symptoms compared with paracetamol. Community pharmacists are one of the most accessible and frequently visited health professionals that offer vital primary healthcare services aimed to provide enhanced clinical outcomes for patients. The position of a community pharmacist is pivotal in LBP assessment and management, from both a pharmacological and non-pharmacological standpoint, including the use of clinical guidelines, yet their roles are often not fully utilized in LBP therapy. Studies investigating the community pharmacist’s views, practices, knowledge, and roles, specifically in LBP management in Australia are variable and limited. This narrative review will briefly cover the impacts of LBP, and to provide a summary on recent evidence, updates and a comparison of the Australian and international low back pain management guidelines on paracetamol vs NSAIDs in LBP, as well as pharmacists’ roles and interventions in a primary healthcare setting in this context.
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