Chronic Back Pain and Headache Often Occur in Same Patient Interview with:

Arani Vivekanantham, MBChB, MPhil
University of Warwick
University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
Coventry, UK
Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis
University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

ni Vivekanantham, MBChB, MPhil
 University of Warwick
 University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
 Coventry, UK
 Centre for Epidemiology Versus Arthritis
 University of Manchester, Manchester, UK  What is the background for this study?

Response: Around one in five people have persistent low back pain and one in thirty have chronic headaches. People with low back pain are usually managed by musculoskeletal services whilst those with headaches are typically treated by primary care doctors and neurologists. There may be particular challenges in treating people with both disorders because of the risk of medication overuse headache in people taking regular pain killers for back pain.

Continue reading

Chronic Back and Knee Pain Relief: How Do Sham Procedures Compare to Surgery? Interview with:

Wayne B Jonas MD

Wayne B Jonas MD

H&S Ventures
Samueli Integrative Health Programs  What is the background for this study?

Response: The findings of this study are based on a systematic review of 25 randomized clinical trials evaluating surgical type interventions (open surgeries, arthroscopic, endoscopic, laparoscopic, heart catheterization, radiofrequency, laser, and other interventions) for chronic back and knee pain. In each study, researchers had also performed sham procedures on a control group where they replicated the invasive procedure by omitting the step believed to be therapeutically necessary. The purpose of this it to determine how much of the effects are due to the placebo response.

Continue reading

Self-Administered Acupressure Studied for Chronic Low Back Pain Relief Interview with:

Susan Murphy, Sc.D., O.T.R.
Associate Professor
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department
Research Health Science Specialist
VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, GRECC  What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic low back pain is very common and affects quality of life by reducing the ability to carry out needed and valued activities. In addition, people with chronic low back pain tend to have other symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and depression. Medications are typically prescribed but have side effects, and in some cases, may increase the risk of abuse and addiction. Non-pharmacological treatments are an important part of chronic pain management and may reduce pain as well as other symptoms.

In this study, we examined the use of self-administered acupressure as a pain management strategy in people with chronic low back pain. Acupressure is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique in which physical pressure is applied to specific points on the body. It is similar to acupuncture, but instead of needles, pressure is applied with a finger, thumb, or device. In previous studies, people with cancer-related or osteoarthritis pain who self-applied acupressure had reduced symptoms such as pain and fatigue. What are the main findings?

Response: Our pilot randomized controlled trial involved 67 participants with chronic low back pain. They were randomized into one of three groups – relaxing acupressure, stimulating acupressure, or usual care. Participants in the acupressure groups were trained to apply pressure to specific anatomical points on their body, and asked to complete daily treatment sessions for 6 weeks. We found that people who performed stimulating acupressure had improved pain and fatigue, and people who performed relaxing acupressure had improved pain after 6 weeks compared to those in the usual care group. No differences among the groups were found for sleep quality or disability after 6 weeks. Participants performed an average of 85% of the daily acupressure sessions and there were minimal adverse events. Adverse events, such as skin breakdown, muscle spasm, and headache were attributed to applying too much pressure and adjustments in application technique was done to avoid future issues. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Self-administered acupressure shows some promising effects on pain and fatigue in people with chronic low back pain. It is a low cost and low risk symptom management strategy that people can adhere to. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Because this was only a pilot study, larger studies are needed to support the effectiveness of this treatment for people with chronic low back pain.


Susan Lynn Murphy, Richard Edmund Harris, Nahid Roonizi Keshavarzi, Suzanna Maria Zick, Self-Administered Acupressure for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial, Pain Medicine, , pnz138,

[wysija_form id=”3″]


The information on is provided for educational purposes only, and is in no way intended to diagnose, cure, or treat any medical or other condition. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health and ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. In addition to all other limitations and disclaimers in this agreement, service provider and its third party providers disclaim any liability or loss in connection with the content provided on this website.

Neck and Back Pain More Common in Diabetes Interview with:

Manuela L. Ferreira PhD
Institute of Bone and Joint Research
The Kolling Institute, Sydney Medical School

Paulo H. Ferreira PhD
Musculoskeletal Health Research Group
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia  What is the background for this study?  What are the main findings?

Response: One in four Australians experience back pain or neck pain. Diabetes is also a worldwide prevalent condition, and currently affects over 382 million people. These two diseases often co-exist and have very similar underlying mechanisms, such as obesity and physical inactivity. We were unsure whether having one condition would lead to developing the other, however.

We have found 11 studies published to date, and assessing the relation between back or neck pain and diabetes. The studies included over 165,000 participants published in the USA, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Iran and Spain.

When we pooled the results of these studies together, we observed that people with type 2 diabetes are 35% more likely to also have low back pain (compared to people without diabetes). The risk of having severe back pain symptoms in people with type 2 diabetes is 63% higher and the risk of having severe neck pain is almost 30% higher, than in people with no diabetes.  We could not identify, however, whether type 2 diabetes can lead to back or neck pain, and it is possible that the two conditions are associated via other underlying mechanisms such as obesity and physical inactivity.

Continue reading

Early Physical Therapy Can Be Protective Against Chronic Opioid Use Interview with:

Steven Z. George, PT, PhD  Professor Director of Musculoskeletal Research Duke Clinical Research Institute Vice Chair of Clinical Research Orthopaedic Surgery

Dr. George

Steven Z. George, PT, PhD 
Director of Musculoskeletal Research
Duke Clinical Research Institute
Vice Chair of Clinical Research
Orthopaedic Surgery What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?Response: This study adds to existing health services research investigating the sequence of services/providers for musculoskeletal pain and its impact on opioid use.

The study suggest that early physical therapy (PT) for the 4 most common musculoskeletal conditions (back, neck, shoulder, and knee) can be protective of chronic/long term opioid use for individuals that were opioid naïve when presenting for their care.  What is different about this study is that the 4 conditions were studied in the same cohort and the same definition of early PT was used (many of the previous studies just looked at 1 conditions, and used different definitions of early physical therapy).  The other thing that was different is that we used a larger dataset of private insurance providers, so this study cuts across different regions of the study (many of the previous studies included one health system).

There was notable consistency in the findings for the 4 conditions and protection of any opioid use, but there were some contingencies.

First was that there was no benefit on decreased dosage for individuals with neck pain – as that was not expected.

Second was that in a follow up sensitivity analysis it looked like the largest benefit of early physical therapy may be for those with back and knee pain.  Continue reading

SEAL Procedure Gives Pain Relief To Some After Failed Back Surgery Interview with:
"Personal Injury Back Pain" by SanDiego PersonalInjuryAttorney is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
Michael Perloff, MD PhD

Assistant Professor of Neurology
Interventional Pain Management
Boston University School of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Low back pain is very common. Patients with chronic low back pain that does not benefit from physical therapy, medications, or injections, often get spine surgery. If surgery fails to help (Failed back surgery syndrome-i.e. continued low back and leg pain after surgery), options for pain relief become more complex.

Typically, patients with failed low back surgery syndrome have tried complex procedures, repeat surgery or technology implants as their main options.

The SEAL procedure is a shortened, simple procedure (done in about 20 minutes) that can help as treatment for failed back surgery symptoms. In the published case series of 30 patients, some patients achieved very good, sustained, pain relief. Continue reading

Minimally Invasive Surgery Solutions For Pain Relief From Back Pain

This video is from the Mayo Clinic and discusses minimally invasive surgery for back pain that has not responded to other modalities, such as strengthening exercises, physical therapy and injections.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

Credit: The content is from the Mayo Clinic News Network