Lower Back Pain

Could Back Pain Be Cured With Antibiotics?

Hey there Guys. Today the news has been busily reporting news that antibiotics may cure back pain. Certainly coming from left field, new research shows that bacterial infections of the discs can lead to long term inflammation and damage to the bone and nerves of the spine.

As promising as this sounds it’s important to note that the research points to one particular cause of back pain: Modic changes. These are micro fractures of the vertebrae. Modic changes result in back pain that persists through the night as well as pain that gets worse with exercise.

Currently the best imaging technique to diagnose Modic changes is via MRI scans.

In Australia family doctor referrals for MRI will leave a significant expense to patients so it is best to be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon to have this testing organised. Outside of Australia it is important to check with your medical insurer to see if you are covered before booking a spinal MRI.

Patients in the study diagnosed with Modic changes were given antibiotics or placebo, a sugar tablet. Four out of five treated with antibiotics had significant decrease in pain with many reporting “I’ve got my life back!”.

A UK orthopaedic surgeon Mr Peter Hamlyn has tried the treatment with 24 patients. He dramatic results and one of his patients improving so well he was able to participate in a marathon.

While the research is still early, given that Modic changes represent 40% of all lower back pain causes this is a very promising potential treatment.

As a back pain sufferer myself I will be sure to keep you updated.

Yours in great health.

Dr George

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