Meanwhile, over on the BIM site, there is a really good discussion led by Neil O’Connell on the recent “back pain as an infection” study (a study that proposed antibiotics could cure 40% of chronic back pain), the media response, and some good links to responses to the study – all worthy reading for clinical scientists to see examples of the kind of questions that would be useful for scientific scrutiny of any research publication.
There is another fallout which has not been mentioned – we are now left with the term “back infection” and it is the clinicians who have to deal with this and somehow mop up the mess until the scientific community sort themselves out. We have struggled with science “gifts” in the past such as “slipped disc”, and “bulging disc” and now we have “infected back”. Is it much different to Frida Kahlo’s cracked column? “Infected” is such a potent word.
I had my first “infected back” last week – A colleague said “I have read about infected backs in the paper and I wonder if mine is infected”. I get sinus infections that come and go and my back pain comes and goes, though not at the same time – should I think about antibiotics? And maybe my tennis elbow is an infection too.”
What does the clinician say in response?
– David Butler