Ozone, a gas linked to global warming, could be a new form of treatment for people with sore backs. Studies show that an ozone-oxygen gas mix can shrink swollen tissue and reduce pain. It’s presently being used to treat herniated or slipped disc pain.
Discs are the protective circular pads of cartilage that sit between the vertebrae in the spine and act as shock absorbers. Over the years, the discs lose their water content that makes them less flexible and prone to damage. Damage can be caused by bending, heavy lifting, moving or age-related wear and tear.
The tough outer case of a disc can split, causing the soft inner core to bulge out. This bulging tissue can press on nerve fibres that pass between the vertebrae causing pain.
Normally doctors suggest physical therapy and painkillers to relieve the pain, but if the pain persists for more than six weeks, surgery may be needed. Around one in ten cases of a slipped disc may need surgery in which the piece of disc that is bulging is cut.
How Is Ozone Therapy Done?
A patient is first anaesthetized and tiny cameras are used to guide a needle to the damaged disc where the mixture of ozone and oxygen gas in injected.
Ozone gas is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates the immune system. Ozone treatment works by reducing levels of prostaglandins — compounds in the body that trigger inflammation and pain. This helps shrink the disc tissue so that it no longer presses on surrounding nerves. It relaxes blood vessel cells and improves circulation, effectively reducing the pain caused due to discs prolapse.
A study published in the journal Spine found that when 60 patients with a slipped disc were given ozone therapy, they were twice as likely to be pain-free than those in a control group.
1. Jain, Ankur et al. Comparative Study of Intradiscal Oxygen-Ozone Therapy, Electrothermal Therapy, and Their Combined Effects for the Treatment of Lumbar Disc Herniation. The Spine Journal, Volume 10, Issue 9, S70 – S71
2. Bocci V, Borrelli E, Zanardi I, Travagli V. The usefulness of ozone treatment in spinal pain. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 2015;9:2677-2685. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S74518.