Diagnosing Low Back Pain: New Approach

By Lisa Cantkier

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low back pain is one of the most common problems and is caused by a number of different triggers. Affecting up to approximately 80% of the adult U.S. population during their lifetimes, low back pain is the second most common reason for doctor visits, and it burdens the health-care system with an estimated cost of $100 billion per year.

In a recent study published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy, researchers at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, with Northwell Health, examined levels of serum cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) in human subjects who had some of the most common diagnoses for low back pain—disc herniation, spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease, relative to levels in control subjects. Cytokines are proteins that affect communication between cells. Certain cytokines are involved in the initiation and continuity of pathologic pain. MMPs are enzymes that are part of wound healing.

The study showed serum levels of pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) were quite higher in subjects with low back pain compared with control participants. They also found participants with low back pain due to spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease had higher levels than those with intervertebral disc herniation and controls.

The study led researchers to hypothesize that “biochemical profiling of circulating cytokines may assist in refining personalized diagnoses of disc diseases.” Patients with low back pain may have inflammation, and biochemical profiling could help with proper and faster low back pain diagnoses.

Dr. Nadeen Chahine, Ph.D., lead associate investigator at the Feinstein Institute, said, “Exploring the biochemical profile of those who suffer from low back pain will help the 40% to 80% of sufferers throughout the U.S.”

For more information about the study, click here.

Last Reviewed 01/18/16

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Lisa Cantkier, CHN is a certified holistic nutritionist and a health and wellness editor.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

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