Monday, February 22, 2016

New Treatments for Back Pain

Back pain is a leading cause of chronic pain in the United States.  There are many reasons that people have low back pain, but there are not many effective treatments out there.  Part of the reason for this is that the scientific community does not understand the mechanism of low back pain.  Another reason is that there are some types of pain, such as diskogenic pain, that does not have any current good treatments.  There is presently lots of research being done on new, innovative therapies for the treatment of low back pain.

One such treatment, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is currently being studied.  In this, physicians draw your own blood and centrifuge out the platelets.  They then take your own platelets and inject them into the areas of pain.  One such study that was performed recently evaluated the effectiveness of PRP injections directly into the vertebral disks, for the treatment of diskogenic low back pain.  The patients were evaluated at 8 weeks, 6 months and 1 year following treatment.  The results are promising and showed improvement in both patient function and perceived level of pain post injection.

Despite knowing this information, the study, itself, needs to be rated.  How do we know that the study done on the patients was actually a good study?  Well, as you can see below, via the Star block, that this study gets an overall "B" rating.


Even though this was a double blind, randomized control study, this study's rating declines due to the limited number of patients and the short follow up time period.

It is essential, when evaluating articles, that all of these things are taken into account when making treatment-based decisions.  Though this is not the only thing one must take into account, these are some of the important things that we at treatment scores are quantifying to help physicians and patients have a better understanding of which treatment may be the most effective for their disease. (Be sure to read the disclaimers below.)


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