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    Experimental Treatment May Help Relieve Back Pain

    Study Shows Injections of Ozone Helped Treat People With Back Pain Due to a Herniated Disc

    Pain From Herniated Disc continued...

    It's possible ozone treatment will someday be one of those options, Shamie tells WebMD.

    But because so many people with pain from herniated discs get better on their own, it is hard to prove that treatments like ozone therapy actually work, he says. And in this study, it's unknown whether it was ozone, the steroids, or a combination of the two that helped patients, he says.

    There's no way to be sure, Lehnert says. A head-to-head comparison of treatments is planned to answer that question.

    Ozone Therapy for Back Pain

    Ozone therapy was developed In Italy. It's been used to treat thousands of lower back pain patients, mainly in Europe, in recent years.

    Lehnert says he added the steroid to reduce inflammation because 50% of the pain is due to inflammation in the herniated area.

    Using computer imaging for guidance, the doctor guides the needle used to deliver the ozone/steroid treatment directly into the herniated disc. Patients require no more than a local anesthetic.

    While patients in the study only got one injection, more may be needed, he says.

    Importantly, imaging studies showed patients' disc volumes shrunk by 2% to 15% in the study. "If you reduce the volume, it won't be pushing against the nerve, causing pain," Lehnert says.

    There were no serious complications, and no one had an allergic reaction. Some people complained of pain around the area in the back where the needle was injected; it went away after a few days.

    In other studies, there have been reports of increased pain and bleeding in the eyes, Lehnert says.

    Jeffrey Peterson, MD, professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., says the technique is promising.

    "We're already using similar procedures for steroid injections," says Peterson, who moderated the session at which the findings were presented. "What’s different here is the medical ozone."

    These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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