One-time treatment offers hope to patients with chronic low back pain

About 40% of the population over the age of 40 suffers from degenerative disc disease, and those dealing with the pain of the chronic condition know how persistent and difficult to treat. There may be hope on the horizon, with promising results from a three-year trial signaling a new, long-lasting way to address a condition currently treated only with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections or, at the most serious , operation.

“Existing treatments for chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease are often ineffective or the effects are short-lived,” said Dr. Douglas Beall, lead author and chief of radiology at Clinical Radiology of Oklahoma.

In degenerative disc disease (DDD), the intervertebral discs that protect the spine and allow flexibility and movement begin to erode, which gets worse over time and causes varying degrees of pain and mobility problems. Developed by Dr Beall and his team, this new treatment injects specialized cells into the damaged intervertebral disc to encourage existing cells to grow healthy tissue.

In the three-year study, 46 patients with chronic back pain received viable disc allograft supplementation and were monitored for pain levels over time. After pain levels were assessed using the visual analog scale and functionality measured by the Oswestry Disability Index (ODI), 60% of patients reported a greater than 50% improvement in condition and 70% of recipients noted a change in more than 20 points in their ODI scores, moving them from categories of severe or moderate disability to mild or better.

The treatment group reflected the type of patients seeking medical attention for their DDD and varied in age (19-73), gender, race, BMI, and smoking status.

“The significant improvement in pain and function holds promise for patients with chronic low back pain – a condition that can greatly impact a person’s quality of life,” said Dr. Beall.

While targeted injections have been in development for several years, this 36-month study also demonstrates that allogeneic therapy provides lasting mobility improvements and pain relief, all from one day’s minimally invasive procedure.

“This treatment can help patients return to normal activity levels over a longer period of time,” said Dr. Beall. “We need better treatments for this condition as conservative care does not provide the long-term outcomes patients deserve. Injectable allograft treatment could be the solution for many people.”

The study also focuses on the spillover effects of chronic low back pain, from the economic cost of absenteeism to being responsible for half of all opioid prescriptions.

The research will be presented this week at the annual scientific meeting of the Society of Interventional Radiology in Phoenix.

Source: Society of Interventional Radiology

One-time treatment offers hope to patients with chronic low back pain

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