A new study claims that 40% of people with chronic back pain could be cured with antibiotics instead of surgery.
Scientists at the University of Southern Denmark found in their study that 20% to 40% of chronic lower back pain was caused by bacterial infections, notes The Guardian.
The University of Southern Denmark team described their study in two papers published in the European Spine Journal.
In the first paper, the scientists said that bacterial infections inside slipped discs in the back can cause painful inflammation and tiny fractures.
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The bacterial infection microbes are known for causing acne. Apparently, after tooth brushing the bacteria gets into the bloodstream and can find its way down to the back. The bacteria can cause serious inflammation and damage to vertebrae in the back.
In the second paper, the scientists cured this type of chronic back pain with 100 days of antibiotics. The antibiotics reduced pain in 80% of patients, who had suffered for more than six months and had damaged vertebra.
At the same time, doctors warn against widespread long-term prescribing of antibiotics, which could increase drug resistance across the population, reports The Telegraph.
“This will not help people with normal back pain, those with acute, or sub-acute pain, only those with chronic lower back pain,” Dr. Hanne Albert, of the Danish research team, told The Guardian. “These are people who live a life on the edge because they are so handicapped with pain. We are returning them to a form of normality they would never have expected.”
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“We have to spread the word to the public, and to educate the clinicians, so the right people get the right treatment, and in five years’ time are not having unnecessary surgery," added Dr. Albert.
“This is vast. We are talking about probably half of all spinal surgery for back pain being replaced by taking antibiotics,” said Dr. Peter Hamlyn, a neurological and spinal surgeon at the University College London hospital. "...I genuinely believe they deserve a Nobel prize."
"It’s been tough. There have been ups and downs. This is one those questions that a lot of our colleagues did not understand at the beginning. To find bacteria really confronts all we have thought up to this date as back pain researchers,” said Danish team scientist Claus Manniche.