Could the clinical diagnosis of lower back pain be just a skin temperature

reading away?

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.

Sugerman said.

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.