Can ozone/oxygen injections really relieve back pain?
By Michael Castleman for Live Right Live Well
Among the many causes of back pain, herniated (aka slipped or ruptured)
disks are common, painful and debilitating. Now, health experts are
finding that a shot of ozone/oxygen injected directly into a ruptured
disk is “as effective as surgery, but faster, easier, cheaper and less
traumatic,” says interventional radiologist Kieran J. Murphy, M.D.,
chief of medical imaging at the University of Toronto.
In between the bones of your back are little cartilage disks. These
disks act as shock absorbers, cushioning your spine and protecting it
from damage as you move. But when a disk ruptures, its jelly-like
filling spills out and presses on nearby nerves, causing serious pain.
Back surgery cleans out the disk filling, relieving pressure on the
nerves. But it’s invasive and requires extended recovery.
Ozone/oxygen injections eliminate the disk’s jelly filling by
oxidizing it. The most familiar form of oxidation is burning. Fire can
reduce a big log to a small amount of ash. When a combination of ozone
and oxygen are injected into a ruptured disk, they do something similar
without the fire.
Murphy learned about ozone/oxygen injections while working in Italy
with the doctor who developed the procedure 10 years ago. He says that
more than 20,000 Italians have been treated, with 80 percent
experiencing relief and fewer than 1 percent reporting significant
complications. This makes ozone/oxygen injections more effective and
considerably safer than surgery, says Murphy. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration is currently reviewing the procedure for use in the
United States. In the meantime, ozone/oxygen injections have largely
replaced disk surgery in Italy.
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