Ozone jab to relieve you of your back pain

Researchers at the Negrin University Hospital in Spain developed a liquid form of the gas combined with oxygen and are now testing it as a way to treat slipped or herniated disc pain.

In a trial being underway at the hospital, the gas mix injection has been given to patients with slipped discs who will be compared with a control group who receive a placebo treatment of just oxygen, the Daily Mail reported.

Discs are the protective circular pads of cartilage that it between the vertebrae in the spine, where they act as shock absorbers.  Over the years, these discs gradually lose their water content, which makes them less flexible and more prone to damage.

The problem usually occurs in the lower back and its treatments include physiotherapy and painkillers, but if the pain continues for longer than six weeks, surgery may be considered.Around one in ten cases of a slipped disc will require surgery, where the piece of disc that is bulging is cut away.

But, with the new treatment, the patient is first anaesthetised then doctors use tiny cameras to guide a needle to the damaged disc, where the gas mixture is injected. In a recent study of 60 patients in Rome, published in the journal Spine, those who were given the ozone therapy were twice as likely to be pain free than those in a control group.

“Ozone-oxygen injections, which are minimally invasive, seem to safely and effectively relieve pain, as well as reducing both disability and the intake of pain-relieving drugs,” said the researchers from the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit in Rome.

It’s suggested the ozone treatment works by reducing levels of prostaglandins — compounds in the body that trigger inflammation and pain. This helps shrink the disc tissue so that it no longer presses on surrounding nerves.

Commenting on the research, Jane Tadman of Arthritis Research UK said: “There have been more than 20 studies on ozone/oxygen treatment and although many show quite positive results in terms of reducing pain, it has not been accepted as a mainstream treatment for degenerative disc disease.

“Perhaps these further studies will provide proof that this therapy can offer relief for the pain of degenerative disc disease without the need for surgery.” Dr Evan Davies, consultant spinal surgeon at Southampton University NHS Hospital, said: “I would caution patients about receiving this treatment unless it is part of a controlled trial to assess its efficacy.

“As yet, the scientific evidence is poor to support its use in the mainstream, and its utilisation should only be part of scientific investigation.”

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