Antibiotics could treat chronic back pain
In what could be a breakthrough in pain research, a new study suggests that some cases of chronic back pain could be as simple to treat as a case of strep throat. The research, published in the _European Spine Journal, _concluded that about 40 percent of chronic back pain cases could be successfully treated with a course of antibiotics.
Roughly 80 percent of all Americans will suffer from lower back pain at least once in their lives, and a significant portion of them will develop chronic lower back pain. The problem is so widespread that lower back pain is one of the more common reasons for absence from work in the U.S.
The treatment plan involving antibiotics is based on a newly discovered link between long term back pain and a bacterial infection called Propionibacterium acnes – the same bacteria behind the teenage curse of acne.
For the study, researchers divided 162 volunteers, all with chronic lower back pain due to a slipped disk and inflammation, into two groups. One group received doses of Amoxicillin and clavulanate for 100 days. The other group received a placebo. In 80 percent of cases, the antibiotic treatment effectively reduced disability and lower-back pain.
If the results of the trial can be confirmed in larger studies, the antibiotics treatment could offer pain sufferers a simpler, better and much cheaper option than surgery.