Setback for back pain medication highlights need for better prevention efforts

Jul 15 2011
While great strides have been made in recent years in the treatment of low back pain symptoms, promising drug candidates do not always work out.

That's what seems to be happening to Axomadol, a novel medication that was being investigated for the relief of symptoms of moderate to severe chronic lower back pain. Its producer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, recently announced the results of the drug's Phase 2 its randomized, double-blind, two-arm, parallel group design study that included 236 patients. The subjects received Axomadol orally in doses ranging from 100 mg/day to 300 mg/day during a four-week period.

Overall, the researchers did not find that the drug performed significantly better when compared to a placebo medication, and the company is currently conducting further analysis to determine the future of the program.

Given this, and the fact that many mainstream back pain medications have addictive properties, some Americans may be more inclined to take steps to improve their lifestyle in order to avoid developing back pain in the first place. Spine-healthy habits include getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per day and refraining from spending too much time seated in front of a TV or a computer screen.

Since the latter may be difficult to avoid for office workers - a group that is known to be at high risk for developing back pain symptoms - health experts have offered several tips that may help individuals avoid this common occupational hazard.

For example, workers are encouraged to take frequent breaks to get up and stretch their legs, and to take advantage of their lunch breaks to walk around. Also, communicating in person by walking down the hallway to a colleague's office may be healthier than sending messages via email, gchat or phone.

Finally, while sitting at the desk, employees should strive to keep their backs and shoulder blades straight rather than slumping down. The computer screen should be at eye level to enable the head and neck to maintain a natural position rather than chin up or chin down.

Even when back pain occurs, there may not be a need for drugs with potential side effects just yet, as some alternative methods of treatment have been known to bring good results. These include massages, acupuncture, yoga and various relaxation and meditation techniques.

According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), approximately one-quarter of U.S. adults have experienced lower back pain that lasted at least one full day within the previous three months. The organization also claims that some 8 percent had one or more episodes of acute lower back pain in the previous year.

Furthermore, the ACA states that back pain treatments may place a financial burden on patients and the healthcare system, as only 5 percent of individuals with back pain disability account for 75 percent of the costs associated with lower back pain. Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on expenses related to the condition, the association notes.