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Backache problems could be solved by antibiotics

Published on 08/05/2013

Up to half a million people suffering from back pain could be suffering from an infection treatable by antibiotics.


Antibiotics inhibit bacterial growth and kill bacteria

The theory could revolutionise the way backache is treated and would be suitable for up to 40% of patients with a severe and long term condition.

The paper which lays out the theory and research was initially turned down by both the Lancet and BMJ but was accepted and published by the European Spine Journal.

However, the process is not as simple as taking a course of antibiotics instead of painkillers. The

procedure requires an MRI scan to identify the “Modic” changes in the spinal column which reveal the presence of bacterial infection. Modic changes were named after the doctor who first discovered them in 1988.

Only a skilled practitioner who can differentiate the changes and pain caused by an infection will be able to perform the examination and sometimes the course of antibiotics could last for 100 days.

A longer course of treatment is required due to the infected discs in the spine having a limited or no blood supply.

The cost of back pain to the exchequer is estimated to be in the region of £5billion per annum.

Just 162 patients suffering with severe back pain were analysed for one year and those who were on the antibiotic treatment noted less pain and disability than those treated with a placebo.

Peter Hamlyn, a private spinal surgeon, said: “This is going to require us to rewrite the textbooks.”

The paper was written by Hanne Albert, a physiotherapist from the University of Southern Denmark, and Hamlyn believes the discovery is “the stuff of Nobel Prizes.”

Health insurance policies do cover treatment and physiotherapy for back pain but only if it is not a pre-existing condition when you take out a health insurance policy.

For more information on insurance on pre-existing conditions look at our health insurance guide here.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2013


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