Osteoporosis is blamed for backbone fractures. The real culprit could well be our own vertebrae, which evolved to absorb the pounding of upright walking, researchers at Case Western Reserve University say. Compared to apes, humans have larger, more porous vertebrae encased in a much thinner shell of bone. The design works well until men and women age and suffer bone loss, leaving them vulnerable to cracks and breaks, the scientists say. Apes, on the other hand, can suffer comparable bone loss as they age, but have much thicker vertebral shells to begin with so that their vertebrae remain intact. The findings are now published in the online journal PLoS One. "In evolution we have great adaptation, but there is sometimes a tradeoff, " said Meghan Cotter, an instructor in anatomy at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and a lead author of the study.
Individuals who attend yoga classes have better results for chronic low back pain symptoms compared to those using a self-care book, researchers from Group Health Research Institute, Seattle, reported in Archives of Internal Medicine. The authors added that they also experienced superior improvement in function. The authors explained as background information: "Despite the availability of numerous treatments for chronic back pain, none have proven highly effective, and few have been evaluated for cost-effectiveness. Self-management strategies, like exercise, are particularly appealing because they are relatively safe, inexpensive, and accessible and may have beneficial effects on health beyond those for back pain. One form of exercise with at least 'fair' evidence for effectiveness for back pain is yoga, which might be an especially promising form of exercise because it includes a mental component that could enhance the benefits of its physical components.
A research team from the University of Leicester say they have discovered the nerve cells in the brain that are responsible for coping with stress. Neuroscientists seem to have made an important move forwards in their understanding of stress and the brain's role in mitigating its impact. They say they discovered 'thin" and 'mushroom like' nerve cells that are responsible for learning and memory. More importantly they say it's possible for these cells to alter what is remembered after the fact, so that painful or traumatic memories are lessened. There appears to be a particular protein produced to help the brain adjust for stressful experiences, lessening the effect and the way the memory is stored. Thus mice lacking this particular protein were found to be less out going and tended to try to hide in the dark, in what researchers concluded was a more cautious response to an unpleasant memory.
New research that compares a more tailored or stratified management of back pain by general practitioners (GPs) in primary care with the current "one size fits all" standard approach finds it could be more effective for patients and also cost less. You can read how the UK-based trial came to this conclusion in the 29 September online issue of The Lancet. In the UK, about 9% of adults goes to see their GP every year because of back pain. Under the current primary care strategy, which promotes a standard approach regardless of the level of severity of the condition, as many as 80% of these patients are still reporting pain or disability 12 months later. Lots of studies have reported the benefits of various treatments, including cognitive behavioural therapy and exercise-based approaches, but none has looked at them in terms of which therapies benefit which patients, suggesting there may be room for efficiency improvements in the primary care management of back pain.
Many patients suffering from chronic pain try alternative and complementary treatments as these are often viewed as natural and therefore risk-free. Prof. Edzard Ernst (Exeter, UK) warned at the EFIC Congress 'Pain in Europe VII' that patients are being bombarded with misinformation on the subject but that in fact very few alternative pain treatments are supported by well-founded evidence. However, evidence was presented during the Congress that therapies, such as acupuncture, acupressure and aromatherapy are efficient in tackling pain. Acupuncture after surgery: More than placebo Acupuncture can work against acute pain, for instance after surgery. Findings of two review papers reveal that acupuncture applied at certain times following an operation actually achieves a moderate reduction in pain relief.