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Tylenol and Acetaminophen for Back Pain

Using Tylenol Safely

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Updated June 18, 2014

Searching for an over-the-counter medication for your back or neck pain? Tylenol, or acetaminophen, can be a great choice for back pain.

Class/Category
The active ingredient in Tylenol is acetaminophen. Categorized as an analgesic, acetaminophen is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fever. Acetaminophen is found in many other pain medications, such as Excedrin, Vanquish and Aspirin-Free Anacin. Acetaminophen is also available in generic form, and in combination with other drugs.

What it Does
Tylenol is used for short-term pain relief for mild to moderate pain, and to temporarily reduce fever. One might take Tylenol for back and neck pain if they have muscle ache and/or arthritis.

How it Works
Tylenol affects the central nervous system. It works by reducing the amount of the brain chemical that excites pain signals. It also exerts a cooling effect by inhibiting the prostaglandins that play a role in the brain’s heat regulating center.

Forms of the Medication
Tylenol and acetaminophen come in tablet, including extended release tablet, capsule, liquid, or drop form. You can take Tylenol with or without food. It also comes in suppository form.

Side Effects – Alcohol and Tylenol
The Tylenol label warns against consuming alcohol and acetaminophen together. An overdose of Tylenol in combination with alcohol can cause liver failure, and possibly death. It is possible that liver failure could occur even at the dosage recommended on the packages – research is being done to find out more about the context in which this might occur. People with liver disease, and/or drinkers should consult with their doctor before taking Tylenol, and should follow the instructions on the package. Never take more than the recommended amount indicated.

Side Effects – Allergies to Acetaminophen
Allergy to acetaminophen and/or other ingredients in the medication is possible. If you have a known allergy to any of the ingredients listed on the box, don’t take it. And consult your doctor if you have an allergic reaction after taking a dose.

Special Warning – Kids
If your child is under two and has a cough, cold or other respiratory problem, speak with your doctor before giving her or him any medication with acetaminophen in it. Improper use of acetaminophen can cause serious side effects, and even death in young children.

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