Could an allergy be the unexplained cause of persistent and intractable back ache?
There has long been a recognised connection between backache and allergy but two new studies suggest that controlling the allergic response may also dramatically reduce the backache.
As far back as the 1920s a Dr S.H. Rowe demonstrated that chronic muscular pain often had a food allergy connection; in the 1950s a Dr W.N. Sisk made a similar connection between allergy and 'sudden intense aches and pains' while a Dr A.H. Rinkel listed 'low back pain' as one of the symptoms of allergy.
More recently (1999) epidemiologists Hurwitz and Morgenstern interviewed a large population between 20 and 39 years of age and found that patients with a history of allergy were 50% more likely to report suffering from back pain and depression, while a study in 2009 the Journal of Pain concluded that women with incontinence or allergy were at a greater risk for developing back pain than women without those conditions.
Physicians at the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine in South Carolina, which has an integrative approach to allergy, observed that some patients routinely arrive for allergy treatment with coincidental back pain. Physicians also noted that the need for both the relief of allergy symptoms and relief of back pain occurred during high levels of atmospheric pollen.
Based on all of these observations Sue Killian of the Institute for Therapeutic Discovery and John McMichael of Beech Tree Laboratories in Providence, RI studied two cases of co-existing allergy and back pain both of which conditions were relieved by a course of Provocative Neutralisation.
Both cases are described in a new paper, Seasonal Allergy Induced Back Pain: A Report of Two Cases in Herald Scholarly Open Access. The description is followed by an interesting discussion of the allergic process and how it can cause muscle spasm and pain.
As they conclude – 'while obvious injuries are readily diagnosed, finding and treating non-specific back pain is more challenging. Investigating the connections between allergy and back pain reveal that the allergic cascade produces some of the same inflammatory cytokines and neuropeptides which produce back pain. If allergies are concurrent with back pain, treating allergies often has a positive effect on back pain because controlling the allergic cascade diminishes the addition of chemicals common to both conditions.'
An encouraging prospect for those whose back pain has up till now remained resistant to all treatments.
Killian S, McMichael J (2015) Seasonal Allergy Induced Back Pain: A Report of Two Cases. J Allergy Disord Ther 2: 004.
• If this article was of interest you will find many other articles on unlikely allergies and allergy connections here – and links to many relevant research studies here.