New Delhi: Oxygen-ozone therapy is emerging as a better treatment option than surgery for people suffering from slipped disc due to its minimally invasive procedure and speedy recovery, doctors say.
Experts said the procedure, which was first tried in Europe, leaves no surgical scars on the skin and the patient can be discharged from hospital on the same day compared to surgery which takes weeks.
Slipped or herniated disk is a condition when one of the discs in the spine ruptures and the gel inside leaks out. It causes numbness and pain along the affected nerve. In severe cases, the patient may require surgery to remove or repair the slipped disc.
Pardeep Muley, head of interventional radiology at city-based Fortis hospital, said: "In this procedure, a oxygen-ozone mixture is slowly injected into an artery or vein with a hypodermic syringe.
"The injection results in release of water molecules and subsequent cell degeneration of the matrix, which is replaced by fibrous tissues in five weeks and the formation of new blood cells. Together, these events result in a reduction in disk volume and slowly and slowly cures the problem," he said.
He said the ozone-oxygen therapy stops the further shrinkage of disc.
Bidhur Gupta from Safdarjung Hospital, a spine expert, said that at the end of the treatment, patients are advised to rest in supine position -- lying flat on one's back -- for two hours and walk away on the same day.
"Until a few decades ago, patients with disc herniation had only one treatment option -- surgery. But thanks to advanced technology, less radical option is now available," he said.
Among other benefits of the ozone-oxygen therapy is the lesser risk compared to surgery, cheaper than traditional surgery, exact localisation of the disease is possible through image guidance and procedure done under local anaesthesia.
Gupta said the therapy was helpful in treatment of many other health complications such as heart disease, cancer and Parkinson's disease.
"It is also used for treating abscesses and other signs of infections. Ozone is sometimes used to stop dental cavities from progressing," he said.