Back pain will affect eight out of 10 people at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health. Getting in a car accident can trigger or exacerbate back pain, often leaving victims with a chronic issue they must learn to live with. Recent studies have unveiled two treatment options that may provide relief to back pain sufferers: antibiotics and acupuncture.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham (UK) and the University of Southern Denmark may have uncovered a treatment for chronic back pain last year. Their study, published in the "European Spine Journal," discovered a link between a bacterium known as propionibacterium acnes and chronic back pain. The bacteria, which is the same pathogen that causes acne in human skin, can be treated with simple antibiotics. This treatment could be effective with about 40 percent of people suffering from chronic back pain, according to the study.
The study focused on people suffering from lower back pain as a result of herniated disks, which are commonly associated with car accidents. Researchers theorized that the bacteria prosper in the new blood vessels the body develops in an attempt to heal the affected disks.
Patients with bone swelling were split into two groups; one given antibiotics and the other, a placebo. Those who took the antibiotics reported feeling no pain or significantly less pain 80 percent of the time, according to the study.
Antibiotics are cheap, but American doctors will almost always prescribe physical therapy and weight loss first, as well as expensive ergonomic furniture. A biopsy is the only way to concretely discover the presence of the bacteria.
There's no telling if American doctors will get on board with this possible treatment, but in the meantime, traveling to Europe for analysis and the proper prescription is an option. If you received a structured settlement as a result of your accident and you cannot find a doctor to treat you stateside, you may wish to contact a company like J.G. Wentworth. They may be able to purchase all or some of your future payments for a lump sum of cash now, which you could then use to help fund travel expenses.
Some people view acupuncture as quackery, but recent studies have shown it to be effective for back pain relief. Dr. Andrew Vickers, an epidemiologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, published the results of his 2012 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study counters the finding of a 2009 study by the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle.
That 2009 study found "fake" acupuncture—i.e., using toothpicks—was just as effective at treating back pain as real acupuncture. But Dr. Vicker's study found that patients reported more relief as a result of real acupuncture versus sham needle techniques.
Acupuncture can get pricey, but many insurance plans, including some Affordable Care Act plans, cover the treatment. You can find an acupuncturist certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at NCCAOM.org.
Back pain does not have to be a debilitating condition that limits life's activities. Do your own research to determine a treatment that works for you.