Inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of low back pain and sciatica. Growing evidence suggests that elevated levels of some inflammatory biomarkers are associated with these conditions. Much of the research evaluating the association between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, other regulatory molecules, and low back pain and sciatica, focused on patients with chronic low back pain, while fewer studies addressed the issue of detectable biomarkers in the acute phase. Previous studies suggest that pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8 and anti-inflammatory IL-4 and IL-10 play an important role in the inflammatory response following intervertebral disc herniation. According to the approach of personalized medicine it is important to identify subsets of patients within the acute patient group regarding etiology, prognosis and treatment. In addition, if we can identify subgroups based on levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers, where inflammation may be the leading cause of pain, we assume that this subgroup would likely be effectively treated with anti-inflammatory medication. The efficacy of TNF-α inhibitors and IL-6 inhibitors in treating low back pain and sciatica has already been tested in clinical trials, but further studies are required. Overall, identification of circulating biomarkers of acute low back pain and sciatica may assist in refining personalized diagnosis and treatment. Further research is needed to evaluate the role of inflammation in acute low back pain and sciatica, to identify what methods are appropriate for evaluation in clinical practice, and whether there are biomarkers of prognostic value in these patients. Orv Hetil. 2020; 161(13): 483-490.
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