Medical Consultation

Low Back Pain & the Gut Microbiome

Upper Back Massage
What is Low Back Pain?

Low back pain is one of the most common medical conditions. Most of us have experienced, are experiencing or will experience low back pain at some point during our lives. There are many reasons for pain in the lower back, and these include muscle pain, joint pain, nerve compression pain (usually by bulged inter-vertebral discs) and other conditions. Rarely, low back pain can be a consequence of a serious disease like a tumor, an inflammation, an infection or a fracture.

The duration of pain is usually limited to a few days or weeks, and then it is regarded as ‘acute pain’. In a minority of patients, pain persists more than 3 months, and then it is considered to be ‘chronic pain’.

Doctor Taking Notes
Study Procedure

Individuals with low back pain, who participate in the Quebec Low Back Pain Study, and their healthy household members, will be invited to join this study.

Participants will be asked to fill-in a short questionnaire and to send us a stool sample and a saliva sample. All participation in this study is done from home. No need to visit the clinic.

What is the Treatment of Low Back Pain?

At the pain clinic, we first try to diagnose the type of pain and its sources. We also try to evaluate the presence of conditions like depression, anxiety and sleep disorders that prevent pain from healing. When pain is chronic, usually more than one treatment modality is needed to treat it. These modalities often include physical therapy, medications, interventional procedures (like blocks) and psychological support.

Stone Treatment
Dermatologist at Work
What is this study about?

The study takes place at the Alan Edwards Pain Management Unit, at the Montreal General Hospital.

We are looking for a correlation (a link) between low back pain and the bacteria (germs) which inhabit our gut.

To do that, we will analyse stool and saliva samples, taken from individuals with and without back pain, and look for specific bacterial compositions.

Studying in a Library
Who may join the study?
  • Women and men over 18 years old, with low back pain who participate in the Quebec Low Back Pain Study.

  • Healthy adult women and men who live in the same house with an individual with chronic low back pain.

Unfortunately we cannot recruit participants with the following conditions:

  • Any chronic gastrointestinal disease (including inflammatory bowel diseases, diverticulosis, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome);

  • Chronic pain conditions other than low back pain

  • Active malignancy

  • Pregnancy

  • Treatment with antibiotics in the month preceding recruitment.

Stethoscope on the Cardiogram
What will the study include?

To participate in this study you do not need to leave home.

The study will include giving one stool sample and one saliva sample, and filling-in a short questionnaire.

Samples will be given at home, using easy-to-use kits which will be mailed to you.The full kits will then be returned to us by mail.

You will also be asked to fill a short on-line questionnaire (on your computer or smart-phone).

For sending in the samples and filling in the questionnaire, you will receive $50.

Consent to join the study
In order to join the study, you must first read the consent form. If you have any questions about the study, please contact a member of the study team and ask them to explain anything that is unclear to you before you agree to participate (tel. 514-934-8558) .
Consent to participate in study