(ETX Daily Up) – Will back pain soon be history? In the United States, a team of researchers has developed a hydrogel to combat back pain. Less invasive than surgery and more effective than traditional treatments, this method is showing promising early results.
About four out of five people have suffered or will suffer from low back pain, health insurance says. This severe pain in the lumbar vertebrae is one of the most common musculoskeletal disorders in adults.
In the United States, a new type of hydrogel injected into the spinal discs would be “safe and effective in significantly relieving chronic low back pain” when the latter is due to degenerative disc disease, one of the most common causes – joint low back pain. The results of this experimental treatment will be presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in Boston.
This hydrogel, called Hydrafil, was validated by the Food and Drug Administration in 2020. It’s injected directly into the affected discs, “where the gel fills in the cracks and fissures and adheres to the middle layer and outer layer of the disc,” the company explains in a press release. The role of the intervertebral discs is to facilitate movement and flexibility. However, as we age, they can worsen and cause pain and limitation of movement.
“We don’t have any really good treatments for degenerative disc disease other than conservative treatment,” said Dr. Beall, chief of radiology at the Oklahoma clinic and lead author of the study. “Surgery is not statistically more effective than conservative treatment and can potentially make the situation worse; nerve ablation is appropriate for only a few patients.”
This experimental treatment was tested on 20 patients aged 22 to 69 years. The latter suffered from chronic low back pain caused by dysfunction of their intervertebral discs. Six months after the injection, the participants reported a decrease in their back pain and an improvement in their physical condition. While none of them had found any real relief from the conservative treatment, namely rest, painkillers, physical therapy and braces.
“If these results are confirmed by further research, this procedure could be a very promising treatment for chronic low back pain in people who are not adequately controlled by conservative measures,” concludes Douglas P. Beall. “The gel is easy to administer, does not require open surgery and is a simple procedure for the patient.”