London: A shot of ozone, a form of oxygen found naturally in the atmosphere where it shields us from the sun`s harmful ultraviolet rays, could relieve your back ache, say scientists.
Studies have shown an ozone-oxygen gas mix can shrink tissue and reduce pain. The gas mix is now being tested as a way to treat slipped or herniated disc pain.
For treatment purposes, ozone is created in a lab in liquid form and then combined with oxygen, the Daily Mail reported, citing a study in the journal Spine.
In a clinical trial underway at the Doctor Negrin University Hospital, Spain, the treatment is being given to patients with slipped discs who will be compared with a control group who receive a placebo treatment of just oxygen.
Discs are the protective circular pads of cartilage that sit between the vertebrae in the spine, where they act as shock absorbers, according to the Daily Mail.
Over the years, these discs gradually lose their water content, which makes them less flexible and more prone to damage. This can be caused by heavy lifting, bending, moving, or simply age-related wear and tear.
As a result, the tough outer case of a disc can split, allowing the soft inner core to bulge out. This tissue then presses on the nerve fibres that pass between the vertebrae, causing pain.
The problem usually occurs in the lower back. Treatments include physiotherapy and painkillers, but if the pain continues for longer than six weeks, surgery may be considered.
Around one in 10 cases of a slipped disc will require surgery, where the piece of disc that is bulging is cut away.
With the new treatment, the patient is first anaesthetised, then doctors use tiny cameras to guide a needle to the damaged disc, where the gas mixture is injected.
During one study of 60 patients in Rome, those who were given the ozone therapy were twice as likely to be pain-free than those in a control group.