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Hot pepper and back pain, a funny combo!

Associate investigators:

This video was selected as part of the scientific popularization competition “Highlight on the next generation 2020” organized by the QPRN. In this video, students from the Quebec Network of Junior Pain Investigators (QNJPI) present their research project.

Benjamin Provencher

Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Spinal manipulation is a recommended treatment to relieve certain back pain. However, the mechanisms of action of this treatment remain unclear. Understanding these mechanisms could improve clinical practice by targeting conditions where spinal manipulation would be more effective. On the other hand, an ingredient in hot peppers called capsaicin is used in research to cause hyperalgesia, an important phenomenon in the chronicization of pain. One of the mechanisms that could explain the effects of spinal manipulation is inhibition of hyperalgesia. The objective of this study is therefore to determine whether hyperalgesia is modulated by manipulation. Currently, 72 healthy volunteers have been recruited and randomly assigned to different groups: no intervention, spinal manipulation and placebo manipulation. A capsaicin cream and an infrared laser were used to induce back pain and evoked potentials (measurement of brain activity). These measures were compared before vs after the interventions. Preliminary results indicate that in hyperalgesia, brain activity is increased by spinal manipulation. Additional analyzes may reveal other responses to treatment.