Imaging tests, such as x-rays and CT scans, are routinely used as part of an attempt to diagnose back pain. However, some types of back pain, especially lower back pain, don’t always have an easily identifiable cause. Researchers have developed another approach to diagnosing back pain, specifically LBP, that may eliminate hit-or-miss treatment options that often frustrate patients when they don’t experience significant pain relief from back surgery or conservative back treatments.
Researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, took a detailed look at the biochemical profiles of individuals with lower back pain in hopes of finding identifiable patterns. Researchers considered whether or not body mass index (BMI), duration of symptoms, and age affected serum levels in participants when measuring the levels of cytokine interleukin-6, a protein linked to inflammation.
Back Pain Linked to Protein Levels
It was discovered that there appears to be a correlation between levels of inflammatory proteins and certain causes of back pain. For instance, study participants with spinal stenosis had higher serum levels than those whose back pain was caused by a herniated disc.
Serum Levels and LBP
In general, serum levels with the specific metrics considered were higher in all subjects with some degree of lower back pain compared to participants without any reported back pain. These findings suggest that people with LBP may have low-grade inflammation that possibly contributes to their pain beyond what can be detected with imaging tests.
Determining Where Proteins Gather
Since there appears to be a connection between where inflammatory proteins gather in relation to back pain, it’s possible that serum tests could identify such areas in the body. Identifying areas where such proteins have gathered could give doctors a better idea of where to focus diagnostic and treatment efforts.
With more than 80 million cumulative days of work lost due to back pain, there’s an understandable desire among patients to receive a more accurate diagnosis. While additional research is needed to fine-tune the initial findings, such research does offer the possibility of a more accurate assessment of back pain that may give patients treatment options likely to produce lasting relief.
Discover treatment options for your back pain by reaching out to the qualified Beverly Hills spine surgeons at The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. During your in-person consultation, you can learn more about conservative treatments, non-fusion spine surgery, and spinal fusion surgery in Beverly Hills. Call (310) 828-7757 today.