In this issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Zhou and coworkers publish an interesting study demonstrating that patients with low back pain (LBP) appear to have increased metabolic activity in the lower thoracic and upper lumbar segments of their spinal cord, compared with patients of same age and sex who do not have LBP .The findings by Zhou et al. implicate that patients with LBP can be differentiated from people without LBP, using PET/CT scan. The uptake of 18F-FDG as PET ligand has a potential as a biological marker of increased metabolic rate in that area.The increased metabolic rate detected in the affected areas of the spinal cord may represent a process of excitation in the dorsal horn neurons, and/or a visualisation of a neuro-inflammatory process affecting this part of the spinal cord. Both these processes have been claimed to be important for the development of chronic pain. These claims are likely to be true, but there have been very little direct evidence that these phenomena actually take place in patients. The observations made by Zhou et al. are interesting in this respect.The results represent an objective diagnostic finding in the clinical evaluation of patients suffering from LBP.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Apr 1, 2017
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