Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: June 29, 2020
Recently, a story popped up on our Google Alerts that suggested that researchers are encouraged about a new potential treatment for low back pain. The treatment was called Tanezumab, and it’s a monoclonal antibody that is delivered via injection to help treat chronic low back pain.
Finding a better treatment for chronic low back pain has been a little bit like the search for El Dorado, in that there is gold and riches waiting for the person who can find the solution. That’s because most current treatment options tend to have some drawbacks. Over-the-counter pain relievers don’t often provide long-term relief, while stronger opioids can cause issues with addiction or overdose. Surgery can help correct a functional issue, but ideally the issue could be corrected without the need for an invasive operation.
Tanezumab is trying to provide long term relief without the risks of addiction or surgery. It attempts to do this by blocking a nerve growth factor, a protein that causes pain. Essentially, the antibody would work by desensitizing nerves that are firing off pain signals. And while early clinical trials were encouraging, results also show that it’s not a perfect solution by any means.
Finding Back Pain Relief
During the trial, 1,200 patients with chronic low back pain were placed into two groups. One group received an opioid, while the other group received an injection of either tanezumab or placebo. Those who received tanezumab reported decreased pain and showed more improved function compared to the other groups, but there was also a significant downside. One serious side effect that affected more than two percent of patients was the possibility of increased joint deterioration that may require joint replacement surgery.
Two percent may seem like a small number, but considering how many people deal with chronic back pain on a daily basis, moving forward with the treatment in its current forms means more than 100,000 individuals would face the prospect of needing joint replacement surgery considering more than 31 million Americans deal with back pain on a regular basis.
Until researchers can figure out why a small subset of patients are at risk for joint deterioration, it’s clear that tanezumab is not yet ready for widespread implementation. And it also speaks to the larger point of how difficult it is to successfully treat back pain. What might work in one patient isn’t guaranteed to work in another because the spine and the body are so complex.
That’s why it’s so important to sync up with a spine specialist if you’re dealing with chronic back pain. Let us help you figure out exactly what’s going on in your spine and develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your needs. If that sounds like something worth pursuing, pick up the phone and contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today at (651) 430-3800.