Latest in Sciatica Treatment – New Technology To Treat Sciatica

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Latest in Sciatica Treatment

There are a number of aspects which can have a toll on your professional life, and low back pain is  one of them. In fact, health experts believe that this cause is so popular that it only stands second to common cold. Low back pain can affect anyone, and an estimate suggests that about 65-85% of the entire population in the United States suffers from it at some point in their life. If you are looking for the causes, there are several of them for you to consider. These largely include strain, sprain, bad back habits, wear and tear, age, improper posture and unhealthy ergonomic environment. Disc problems are also among the most popular causes. Other conditions such as osteoporotic fractures, tumors, infections or narrowing of the nerve canals may also lead to lower back pain.

A survey indicates that nearly 7 million people are affected by back pain occurring in the lower back, and this is in regards to the United States alone. Advancements in medical science and technology have paved the way for new forms of treatment, and this article tends to highlight the new ways to ease sciatica (caused as a result of disc issues) and back pain. However, you must also keep in mind that these techniques have not been proven yet, and therefore it becomes all the more necessary to be extra cautious. The current treatment of disc problems requires the use of invasive surgical methods. In contrast, these recently invented forms of treating the condition are far less invasive, and it might be worth your time to take a look at these procedures and know about them.

Function of spinal discs

Discs are present between the vertebrae of our spines, and act as natural shock absorbers. Characteristically, these discs are fibrous and also tough. Outer-shelled discs are medically termed annulus, and have a jelly-type liquid in them, also known as nucleus. If your back is healthy, your spine will be flexible, all thanks to the good health of the discs. However, discs are affected by some factors that ultimately lead to their degeneration. This occurs mainly in the annulus, and may eventually lead to the bulging of the nucleus through the former’s walls. The factors responsible for these are trauma, inherent weakness and also the usual wear and tear of the human body.

Injuries to the intervertebral discs can be verified using CT or MRI scans. Interestingly, these scans have been sometimes reported to show abnormalities in the human body capable of causing back pain, but they do not actually do so. The reason behind this still remains unexplained. Nevertheless, an ailing disc can always give rise to back problems, and if it constantly presses a spinal nerve root, the pain can be carried along to the leg, thereby causing sciatica.

Up until now, sufferers of these conditions did not have many treatment options to choose from. Physical therapy, commonly known as PT, is known to be the most effective form of treatment for relaxing the paining muscles. Not only does PT help the adjoining muscles to cope with spine problems, it also helps inhibit any abnormal stress caused on the spine. The use of epidural steroid injections is another effective technique, and is popularly used for reducing inflammation. However, this will only work temporarily if you are suffering from severe back pain. In such cases, it is almost always advised that the patient goes for invasive surgery which involves surgical removal of the disc part, or even surgical fusion of the vertebrae.

Advancements in back pain treatment

Of late, medical science has revealed two minor procedures that are expected to be immensely beneficial for patients suffering from sciatica and back pain. These are intradiscal electrothermoplasty and radio frequency discal nucleoplasty. Again, we mention that these are unproven techniques, and may or may not work in all cases.

•    Intradiscal Electrothermoplasty (IDET) – This is a lesser invasive technique than the already known surgical methods, and the procedure requires a needle to be inserted in the affected disc. An X-ray machine is made use of for appropriate guidance. A wire is threaded down, into the disc, via the needle such that it comes in contact with the inner area of the annulus. This wire is then heated, and the heat is made to damage the nerve fibres invading through the disc. Subsequently, the annulus also somewhat melts, and this inspires the body to form protein for the regeneration of the nerves. The journal Spine, in its October issue published a study carried out on fifty three subjects suffering from discogenic back pain. The success rate of the technique is based on the strictness and its accuracy of use.

•    Radio Frequency Discal Nucleoplasty – This is also known as Coblation Nucleoplasty, and is even more recent than the previously discussed method. The procedure, however, bears slight resemblance to the prior one. A needle is inserted, but instead of a wire, doctors use a special radio frequency probe. The purpose is the generation of a very highly concentrated plasma field which possesses enough energy to break molecular bonds. Here, bonds in gel in the nucleus are targeted. Additionally, this energy is also used to vaporize some part of the nucleus. A slight fraction (about 10-20%) of it is thus removed, thereby reducing the pressure on the disc and adjoining nerves. Some experts indicate that this form of treatment may be more helpful for sciatica, since nucleoplasty effectively reduces bulging discs. Moreover, this plasma field can also be generated at relatively low temperatures, and therefore poses minimum risks to the nearby tissues.

Exciting as these new techniques are, they also offer the possibility of sciatica and low back pain treatment with lesser risks of injury and trauma, conditions that are almost always associated with the use of conventional surgical methods. However, it is best to talk to your doctor for advice before you decide on going for any of these techniques.

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