This mornings interesting find!
Antibiotics costing just £114 may cure chronic back pain in 40% of patients in medical breakthrough 'worthy of a Nobel Prize'
40% of lower back pain cases are caused by a previously unknown bacteria
Can be treated with antibiotics instead of invasive surgery currently used
Spinal expert describes findings as 'a huge breakthrough, a game-changer'
By FIONA MACRAE
Peter Hamlyn (pictured) says the findings are the 'stuff of Nobel Prizes'
Hundreds of thousands of people living with crippling back pain could be cured - by a simple and inexpensive course of antibiotics.
In a breakthrough described as being worthy of a Nobel prize, scientists have shown that many cases of severe, long-term back ache are caused by bacteria – and the bugs can be zapped by a three-month course of pills costing just £114.
Patients who were in so much pain that they had to give up work have thanked the researchers for giving them their life back.
Hanne Albert, the Danish scientist who made the discovery, said almost half of those with chronic lower back pain could benefit.
This works out at more than half a million Britons, including many who are in the prime of life.
Dr Albert said: ‘These are mums and dads in the middle of an active working life.
‘These are pillars of society, they care for their parents and for their children.
‘They will be able to play with their children, instead of just sitting and watching them play.’
An estimated four in five Britons suffer back problems and some point in their life and the condition is behind more GP visits each year than any condition, other than the common cold.
The NHS spends more than £1billion a year on treating it, including around £500million on surgery, while sick days and long-term disability cost the economy at least £3.5billion annually in lost productivity.
Many hard-to-treat cases are caused by slipped discs – where wear and tear, a car crash, heavy lifting or other problem causes a piece of the spongy tissue that cushions the bones of the spine to spill out, causing pain in the back and legs.
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Most people quickly recover but, in some, the pain persists and even major surgery is not completely effective.
Dr Albert, working with colleagues from Birmingham, believes that often this persistent pain is caused not by damaged disc by rogue bacteria that have infiltrated it.
The researcher began by examining tissue taken from discs of people whose back pain was so bad they had had spinal surgery.
Around half tested positive for bacteria, with a bug that normally causes acne predominant.
The researchers have discovered that a previously unknown bacterial infection is the cause of many people's chronic lower back pain
The researchers then allocated 162 men and women who were in ‘relentless’ back pain to a 100-day course of the antibiotic Bioclavid or a placebo.
In contrast to the placebo, the antibiotic greatly cut pain and disability.
For instance, a year on, those who had taken the drug said they’d experienced 64 hours of pain in the previous month. Those on placebo had racked up 200 hours of pain.
And those who had taken drug took just 19 sick days – compared with 45 by those on placebo, the European Spine Journal reports.
Dr Albert, of the University of Southern Denmark, described the improvement as ‘amazing’ and said the patients were effectively cured.
She added: ‘I can’t tell you how many people have given me hugs and told me I have given them their life back.’
It is thought that in these people, the slipped disc gradually had healed itself. However, they remained in pain due to the Propionibacterium acnes bug.
It normally causes acne but is also found in the mouth and pushed into the circulation by tooth brushing.
Almost half of all people with chronic lower back pain could be treated with a simple course of antibiotics
In those who have slipped a disc, it worms its way into the damaged disc, where it produces acid which corrodes the spine, causing fresh and often excruciating pain.
Peter Hamlyn, the University College Hospital London surgeon who has successfully given the antibiotic to patients here, said doctors must now rethink their understanding of lower back pain.
He added: ‘More work needs to be done but make no mistake, this is a turning point, a point where we will have to re-write the textbooks.
‘It is the stuff of Nobel prizes.’
Dr Albert is now educating GPs, doctors and physiotherapists on how to spot those whose pain is caused by the bacteria.
She said: ‘I don’t want surgery for these people. I don’t want them to eat morphine. I want them to be cured.’
However, the treatment is only for those in severe pain.
And with antibiotics only helping around 40 per cent of those whose with chronic lower back pain, she stresses that people mustn’t self-medicate.
Professor Laura Piddock, a University of Birmingham microbiologist, agreed that accurate diagnosis is essential.
Otherwise, patients would be needlessly taking drugs that could increase rates of antibiotic resistance.http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/artic ... Prize.html
I think if they search more for other types of bacteria such as CPn they will be surprised even more!