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German Pain Award: These antibiotics also worked against back pain


Antibiotics for back pain can help some patients
Around 80 percent of Germans suffer from back pain every now and then. The complaints are often caused by poor posture and insufficient exercise. Both natural and medical forms of treatment are available for the pain. Antibiotics can also help some patients. For this finding, a Danish researcher has now been awarded the German Pain Prize.

Sometimes simple remedies for back pain are not enough
Back pain has become a real common ailment. Those affected are usually advised not to take excessive care of their symptoms, but rather to strengthen their backs with exercise. Warmth in the form of a hot water bottle or a hot bath is usually recommended. However, when the symptoms become more severe and / or chronic, simple home remedies for back pain are often no longer sufficient. In some cases, the use of antibiotics can make sense here.

Danish researcher awarded German Pain Prize
Numerous health experts warn against prematurely resorting to medication for back pain, since these often do more harm than help.

But for some patients, the use of drugs makes sense. The Danish scientist Hanne Albert has now been awarded the German Pain Prize for her revolutionary studies in the treatment of back pain with antibiotics.

"With her groundbreaking work, Hanne Albert has permanently changed the way of thinking about pain medicine and created a new basis for discussion on the understanding of chronic back pain," said Dr. Gerhard Müller-Schwefe, President of the German Society for Pain Medicine (DGS) in his laudation in Frankfurt.

The prize, endowed with 10,000 euros, is awarded annually to scientists who have made a name for themselves in the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic pain.

Bacteria in the intervertebral disc
As the DGS explains in a communication, approximately half of the patients with chronic pain in the lower back have edema in the bone marrow during examinations in the MRI, so-called “modic changes”.

During initial examinations, Albert was able to detect bacteria in the tissue removed after a herniated disc in over 50 percent of the patients. Most of the tissue was infected with P. acnes.

For example, this bacterium, which is part of the natural oral flora, gets into the blood via small injuries that occur when brushing your teeth, and finally into the interior of the intervertebral disc, where they also cause inflammation, bone edema and pain after the disc herniation has healed.

Antibiotic use only in some patients
This is why the idea arose to test whether antibiotics could work against the bacterial infection and thus also against the back pain of the patients. This first study already showed significant results in the improvement - both of the pain symptoms and the functional complaints of the patients.

Further investigations confirmed the result. The first effects appeared after six to eight weeks and continued over a follow-up period of one year, in another study even over two years.

Despite the positive results, this does not mean that all patients with lower back pain should now be treated with antibiotics.

"But those with" modic changes "in which bacteria play a role benefit enormously," said Albert. "A revolutionary approach to pain medicine that could not only alleviate the suffering of millions of patients, but could also save enormous costs due to incapacity to work and early retirement," says the DGS communication. (ad)

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