Could the clinical diagnosis of lower back pain be just a skin temperature
Help two researchers at Western University: A Graduate University of
Medical Sciences, find out.
Professors at the university are searching for volunteers to help them in
their study to see whether those with chronic lower back pain have a
different temperature – either warmer or cooler – in the affected area
than those who have no lower back pain.
If the study shows individuals with lower back pain do have warmer/cooler
temperatures in the lower back area, such information could be used by
physicians as a means of clinically diagnosing lower back pain.
“”Today, if someone complains of back pain, the usual course is to perform
an X-ray or MRI,”” said Richard Sugerman, PhD, professor of anatomy. “”Often
nothing shows up with those tests. But if temperature differentials in the
muscles turn out to be indicative of lower back problems, then health care
providers will have an accurate method of diagnosing the problem.””
Study subjects must be between 18 and 40 years of age, with height, weight
and body fat within normal ranges. Participants need to have short- or
long-term back pain but not have had back surgery. Muscle temperature will
be taken of the lower back; no invasive procedures will take place and no
treatments for the alleviation of back pain will be performed. The test
takes about an hour and participants will be paid $10.
Many people have lower back pain, but consider the aches just part of
their everyday lives, don’t think of it as a problem and don’t mention it
to their physician or advanced practice nurse during routine check ups,
Dr. Sugerman added. If health care providers were to check lower back
muscle temperatures as a matter of course during a checkup, patients could
be diagnosed and treated far in advance of the pain becoming acute or
The study is only in its very preliminary phase and results could well
show no correlation between back temperature and low back pain, Dr.
Which is why he and his colleague, H. James Jones, DO, assistant professor
of osteopathic manipulative medicine, need more study subjects. The more
people tested, the more reliable the results and the more quickly they
will find if the study has merit. If study results prove their hypothesis
has value, then Drs. Sugerman and Jones will be able to publish their
For more information on how you can participate in the study and possibly
help health care providers come up with a simple way of measuring low back
pain, contact Dr. Jones at (909) 469-5287.