Dr. Kettner Leads Low-Back Pain Research
Back pain can debilitate patients and cripple the health system if not properly treated. Consider these facts:
- Low-back pain is responsible for one in 10 doctors’ visits in the U.S.
- Back pain represents the second leading cause of absenteeism from work, after the common cold.
- Back injuries cause 100 million lost days of work annually and remains the most costly injury for employers.
- The average total cost per claim: $18,365. This figure is from 1989.
- The total annual costs of low-back pain in the United States, including lost wages and reduced productivity, total more than $100 billion.
- It’s reported than more than 90 percent of back injuries will recover without surgical treatment.
The study reported a spike in painkiller prescriptions, like OxyContin, from 19 to 29 percent of cases. Similarly, MRI and CT scans increased from seven to 11 percent at a cost of $1,000 or more per scan.
“We are a society that demands instant solutions, but back pain doesn’t play by these rules,” said Dr. John N. Mafi, as reported in the National Post on July 31, 2013. Mafi led the JAMA study and works with Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “Unfortunately, the fancier treatments haven’t been shown to decrease patient’s pain or increase their quality of life.”
For chiropractic, recognized for its ability to treat musculoskeletal pain—especially back pain—and improve patients’ quality of life, this study underscores the need for clinical research.
Logan’s Radiology Department Chair Norman Kettner, DC, DACBR, FICC, is working to meet this need with help from his research partners at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), the primary teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School.
Dr. Kettner announced a new imaging project with MGH and its Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging to study spinal manipulation as an intervention for low-back pain.
“There is little on record today, in terms of research, that examines the underlying central neural correlates of manual therapy interventions,” Dr. Kettner reported.
The team—which includes Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D., Lic.Ac., a Logan adjunct faculty member, and Marco Loggia, PhD, a pain imaging researcher, both from the Martinos Center—will employ Arterial Spin Labeling, a functional neuroimaging technique to analyze the brain’s activity during clinical pain and changes in regional cerebral blood flow.
Cutting-edge analytical techniques will map the brain’s connectivity in response to spinal manipulation. The controlled study will rely on clinical population with chronic low-back pain.
“We’ll look at the brain’s connections and communications circuitry,” explained Dr. Kettner. “We’re conducting novel research, as no one has used this brain imaging tool to study the effects of spinal manipulation. This collaborative, integrative research should produce enough preliminary data to submit a grant application with the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health.”
The preliminary research is funded through a grant from the NCMIC Foundation and Logan University.