OU Researchers Conducting Long-Term Study On Lower Back Pain

By
Atish Baidya

Dateline
Updated Mon, Aug 19, 2013 3:32 pm

Researchers at Ohio University are trying to help millions of Americans who experience lower back pain find relief.

The appropriately named RELIEF study, which stands for Researching Effectiveness of Lumbar Interventions for Enhancing Functions, aims to recruit 162 subjects over the next four years. It currently has seven subjects taking part in the study that is looking into the effectiveness of three conservative treatment options for those with lower back pain.

Researchers say about 90 percent of adults will experience low back pain in their lifetime and 10 percent of those people will develop chronic pain and disability.

“The societal and economic burden of back pain is absolutely staggering,” said Brian Clark, one of the principal investigators and professor of physiology at Ohio University. “The reason we are studying these three particular interventions is recent data clearly suggests that conservative therapies are the most appropriate, particularly for the first course of treatment, as opposed to jumping straight to surgical procedures or using things such as narcotics to control pain.”

Researchers are looking into the use of spinal manipulation, mobilization and cold laser treatment options. Scientists hope to determine how the treatments affect the body and which treatment is the most effective.

James Thomas, professor of physical therapy and the other principal investigator, says the causes of lower back pain can be mystery.

“90 percent of clear cases of low back pain lack any pathoanatomic origin,” he said. “Basically that's a fancy way of saying we can't take a picture and say, ‘Oh, this is why your back hurts.’”

The study will look at how the interventions affect brain activity, spinal reflexes and muscle activation in the back.

“We are really taking a global approach to try to understand better why individuals have low back pain,” Thomas said.

The study is being funded with a $2.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on the study or to see if you may be eligible to participate click here.

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