In a recent study it was found that an antibiotic treatment for lower back pain of a chronic nature was found to be 20-40% effective.
This is a major breakthrough in the treatment of chronic lower back pain.
Researchers in Denmark* prescibed the
antibiotic Bioclavid or a placebo for 100 days for patients with chronic lower back
This study consisted of lower back pain sufferers of more than 6 months duration and demonstrating Modic type 1 changes (bone swelling) on MRI.
Modic type 1 changes on MRI represents bone edema (swelling) of the vertebrae adjacent to disc herniation.
The research demonstrated significant improvement in disabilty, leg pain and lower back pain compared to the placebo group.
The subjects were followed-up one year after treatment cessation and reported even greater improvement then that noticed at the end of the 100 day treatment.
The bacteria in question is Propionibacterium acnes. It is found in hair follicles and commonly causes acne. It is also found in the recesses of the gums and crevices of teeth. It is believed to enter the bloodstream as a result of tooth brushing and dental work. The bacteria is then carried to the site of the disc herniation where it sets up house. Here it will produce chronic inflammation and the damage associated with it. The inflammation will cause swelling, bone breakdown (cracks in the vertebrae), and leg and lower back pain.
This chronic low grade inflammation can persist and cause further destruction, pain and disability.
Before you get too excited and run to the doctor and demand the antibiotic treatment understand that it will not help everyone. One of the researchers, Dr. Hanne Albert states, "This will not help people with normal back pain, those with acute, or sub-acute pain – only those with chronic lower back pain," as reported in the Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/may/07/antibiotics-cure-back-pain-patients
There will be 60-80% of chronic lower back pain sufferers that it will not help.
If you have had chronic lower back pain for over 6 months and demonstrate Modic type 1 changes on your MRI then by all means you should talk to your doctor.
As with any use of antibiotics, there is a risk of super-infection due to resistant bacteria. This should always be considered before using antibiotics, especially with anyone with a compromised immune system, the elderly and the sick.
All chronic lower back pain sufferers should be excited and encouraged by this study.
Speak to your doctor to find out if you are a candidate for this antibiotic treatment for lower back pain.
*European Spine Journal April 2013, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 697-707; Antibiotic treatment in patients with chronic low back pain and vertebral bone edema (Modic type 1 changes): a double-blind randomized clinical controlled trial of efficacy by Hanna B. Albert, Joan S. Sorenson, Berit Schiott Christensen, Claus Manniche