ODENSE, Denmark, May 10 (UPI) -- Danish researchers said almost half of cases of chronic lower back pain may be caused by bacteria and may be treated with antibiotics.
Researchers at the University of Southern Denmark conducted two studies. The Danish studies, published in the European Spinal Journal, found the presence of bacteria in 46 percent of patients suffering from chronic lower back pain following a slipped or herniated disc and many were treated with antibiotics.
Dr. Hanne Albert, of the Danish research team, said the findings could give patients who suffer constant pain "a form of normality they would never have expected," the Daily Telegraph reported
Researchers suggested the pain occurred because when a disc becomes herniated, bacteria can enter and cause an infection -- causing bone swelling and persistent pain.
The second study of 162 patients found when such cases were given the antibiotic combination amoxicillin and clavulanate, 80 percent were cured or saw a significant reduction in pain levels.
Peter Hamlyn, a consultant neurologist and spinal surgeon at University College London hospital said the discoveries were so significant that in future, half of all patients who would otherwise endure spinal surgery might instead be helped by antibiotics, the Telegraph reported.
Laura Piddock of the University of Birmingham said antibiotics should only be used to treat back pain once a bacterial cause had been identified.