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40 percent of people with lower back pain may need antibiotics

This blog has talked extensively about the problems that come with workplace injuries and back pain. There are a number of different reasons why someone's back may be hurting, just as there are a variety of different degrees of pain. Some Colorado workers may have minor pain from sitting in front of a computer too long, while others may have fallen or strained their back, resulting in a slipped disc, while working on a construction site.

For those employees whose lower-back pain comes from a slipped or herniated disc, however, there is a new study that shows that many people may benefit from a course of antibiotics. A herniated disc can be a serious condition and can easily be so painful as to prevent an individual from working, requiring him or her to request workers' compensation benefits. Yet, if antibiotics could help, it may be an important tool in recovery.

A set of studies by the University of Southern Denmark found that 46 percent of people with slipped discs had a certain type of bacterial infection. The second part of the study looked at individuals who had a herniated disc and continued having lower-back pain for at least 6 months following their injury. Half of the 162 patients received antibiotics and half received a placebo, and after one year, those who received the antibiotic were much less likely to be in pain.

Scientists believe that the back pain may be related to extra spinal fluid in the vertebrae.

While there still needs to be further studies on using antibiotics to treat individuals with slipped discs, it could gain some traction as another way to help injured employees with their pain.

Source: CBS New York, "Antibiotics May Relieve Back Pain Symptoms," Peter Russell, May 17, 2013

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