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Chronic back pain: research on responses continues

There are many different types of work injuries that can result in chronic back pain. In the Baltimore area and across the nation, construction accidents involving falls are one cause. And there are many others.

But back pain is also a widespread problem, regardless of whether it was caused by a workplace injury for which workers' compensation is available. 

Indeed, back pain affects most people at least periodically over the course of their lives. It is therefore very important to find effective ways to deal with it.

A way that is not only ineffective but dangerous is over-reliance on prescription painkillers. As we discussed last week, opioid painkillers don't address the underlying problem and are potentially addictive.

A new research study suggests, however, that antibiotics may have a useful role to play in addressing back pain. Researchers in Denmark found that antibiotics could offer relief from symptoms of chronic pain in the lower back. As many as 40 percent of the people with such symptoms could benefit, according to the study.

The research involved patients who had back pain from slipped discs. It is unclear how applicable the results are to patients whose back problems go beyond disk herniation.

Of course, there are other steps that may also help to alleviate back pain. Physical therapy is one. Maintaining an active lifestyle is another. Osteopathic methods may also be helpful.

But given how common and chronic the problem of back pain is, doctors and patients need all the tools they can get to respond to it.

Source: "Antibiotics May Relieve Back Pain Symptoms," CBS New York, WedMC Medical News, Peter Russell, May 10, 2013.

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