A state-of-the art treatment cures back pain in more than 80 per cent of sufferers with no side effects, new research reveals.
After a single 10-minute treatment, which involves delivering ‘gentle electrical energy’ into patients’ spines, discomfort was relieved in 81 per cent of sufferers for a year, a study found.
Some 90 per cent of sufferers were also able to avoid surgery to ease their pain after having a single session of the minimally-invasive treatment, the research adds.
Lower-back pain occurs when nerves become pinched and irritated, causing the vertebrate to constrict and reducing the distance between spinal discs.
According to the researchers, this treatment relaxes muscles, allowing the space between discs to return.
Lead author Dr Alessandro Napoli from Sapienza University in Rome, said: ‘The results have been extraordinary. Patients have been relieved of pain and resumed their normal activities within a day. Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away.’
Lower-back pain affects at least four in five people at some point in their lives, with around one in five sufferers developing chronic discomfort lasting a year or more.
A state-of-the art treatment cures back pain in more than 80 per cent of sufferers
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed 80 patients experiencing at least three months of lower-back pain due to a slipped disc that had not responded to exercise or medication.
Slipped discs occur when the soft, jelly-like substance of the inner vertebrate pushes through a tear in the tougher exterior, irritating nearby nerves and causing pain, weakness or numbness in arms or legs.
The study’s participants had a needle guided to the bulging disc and nerve root.
A probe was then inserted through the needle that delivered pulses of electromagnetic waves over 10 minutes.
Dr Napoli said: ‘The probe delivers a gentle electrical energy, so there’s no thermal damage.’
‘Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away’
Results reveal 81 per cent of the study’s participants were pain-free one year after a single 10-minute treatment.
Some 90 per cent of the participants avoided surgery to resolve their discomfort.
Just six per cent required a second treatment.
According to Dr Napoli, none of the participants experienced any side effects.
He said: ‘The results have been extraordinary. Patients have been relieved of pain and resumed their normal activities within a day.
‘Following this treatment, inflammation and pain go away.
‘The nerve root is a sensitive structure that when pinched becomes inflamed and causes pain.
‘The body reacts with muscle constriction, which decreases the distance between vertebrae, and a vicious cycle is created.’
‘With [the] relaxation of the muscles, the distance between the vertebrae returns.’
Dr Napoli added: ‘There’s a big gap between conservative treatments for disc compression and herniation and surgical repair, which can lead to infection, bleeding and a long recovery period.
‘Evolving technologies like this image-guided treatment may help a substantial number of patients avoid surgery.’
It is unclear when the treatment may be available.
The findings were due to be presented at the annual Radiological Society of North America congress in Chicago.