Millions of Australians are wasting money on drugs for back pain that do more harm than good, a study has found.

Sydney researchers say patients taking commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are 2.5 times more likely to suffer from gastro-intestinal problems, such as stomach ulcers and bleeding.

Yet anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen, offer “very limited” short-term pain relief, according to the study’s lead author associate professor Manuela Ferreira. “They do reduce the level of pain, but only very slightly, and arguably not of any clinical significance,” she said.

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