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Can Antibiotics Cure Your Back Pain? Researchers Say "Maybe"! | Health

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Can Antibiotics Cure Your Back Pain? Researchers Say "Maybe"!
Can Antibiotics Cure Your Back Pain? Researchers Say "Maybe"!

McLean, VA - June 17, 2013 – New research from the University of Denmark indicates that 20 to 40% of all chronic, lower back pain is caused by bacterial infection and that treating this infection with an extended course of antibiotics can help many patients avoid back surgery.

Said Dr. Gary Kaplan, the founder and director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine in McLean, Virginia, “As a physician who cares for patients with chronic, low back pain, I am thrilled about this news!  Although surgery is necessary and effective for some patients, far too often we see patients who still suffer from chronic, low back pain even after undergoing surgery.  Learning that a bacterial infection may be the culprit in some of these cases gives us a very promising treatment option to explore.”

The results of the Denmark research, which was conducted over a period of 10 years, were reported in two papers published in the peer-reviewed European Spine Journal.  The first paper explained how a bacterial infection within a slipped disc causes painful inflammation and small fractures in nearby vertebrae.  According to the scientists, when a person suffers a slipped disk, the body grows small blood vessels into the disk to promote healing.  But when the microbe commonly associated with acne, “propionibacterium acnes,” is present in that person’s bloodstream, it can get ferried into the disc, causing inflammation in the disc and the surrounding area.

In their second paper, the researchers showed that a 100-day course of the antibiotic “amoxicillin clavulanate” could alleviate chronic, low-back back pain.  This double-blind, randomized control trial included 162 individuals, some of whom took the antibiotic, and some of whom took a placebo. The patients who took the antibiotic reported that their level of back pain dropped from “15” to “11.5” after 100 days, and further improved to “7” after one year.  These results stand in sharp contrast to the placebo group, who, after 100 days, reported that on average their pain levels fell from “15” to “14.”  After 1 year, the placebo group remained at “14.”

Dr. Kaplan points out, “This news is very promising, but we need to remember that the long-term use of antibiotics can cause other health issues, such as digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies.  Therefore, if you decide to take antibiotics to address your chronic, low back pain, be sure to ask your physician about the possibility of taking probiotics and nutritional supplements to mitigate possible side effects.”

About the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine: For over 25 years, the Kaplan Center’s experienced and caring team of physicians, physical therapists, dietician, psychotherapists, and other healthcare providers have combined the best of conventional and alternative medicine practices to address patients’ chronic pain and illness and help them attain optimal health for life. To learn more about The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, please visit the website at www.kaplanclinic.com.



Albert et al., “Does nuclear tissue infected with bacteria following discherniations lead to Modic changes in the adjacent vertebrae?” The European Spine Journal, 2013

Albert et al., “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” The European Spine Journal, 2013



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