Want to know the latest back pain treatments?
When it comes to new treatment for back pain, I’m happy to report that there are some exciting developments. This ranges from a burgeoning understanding in the exercise industry about the importance of core strength through to high-tech advances, such as stem cell injections. All of this is great news for back-pain sufferers.
First things first: let’s strengthen the core
Prevention is always better than the cure and the bottom line is that strong core muscles can help to prevent back injury in the first place. Physiotherapists and physical therapists have known this for a long time, but it’s now starting to become accepted in the broader exercise industry.
For instance, personal trainers are starting to incorporate core exercises as a key component of any training regime and attention to core exercises has become commonplace in gyms too.
A lot of trainers are staring to run their clients through a core program as a precursor to weight training in recognition of the fact that strong core muscles make back injury less likely.
The future of back pain treatment: stem cell injections
While this one’s a more experimental treatment at the moment and falls in the category of “watch this space”, stem cell injections are starting to be used to treat disc injuries. Basically, the treatment involves the use of platelet-rich, plasma-type injections for combatting back pain and disc injuries and tears.
While the results are still being studied at the moment, the preliminary findings are that stem cell injections may hasten recovery. This is a relatively new area of research, but we can anticipate evidence about the efficacy of these types of injections in the next five or so years.
Radiofrequency pulses targeting nerve pain
There is a new and often very effective technique called radiofrequency rhizotomy that’s being used by pain specialists. This is demonstrating great results for neck and back pain. The procedure involves the pain specialist inserting a tiny needle into the affected area, which is then given a small radiofrequency pulse, increasing the heat and burning out the nerve that refers the pain to the spine.
Watch this space: supplementation
At the moment, I’m working with a sports physician, exploring the different types of supplements, such as magnesium, that might help patients to recover more quickly from injuries such as disc tears. Presently, the focus is mostly on sports-related injuries, given that they are the types of injuries from which people usually want to recover most quickly.
I’ll be conducting the research over a five-year period in order to determine whether there is a benefit from supplementation. During this time I’ll follow the participants in the study sample for a minimum of three years. Then we compare them with people who haven’t had the treatment, in order to scientifically assess whether or not it works. Fingers crossed for positive results and I’ll keep you posted!
About Dr Richard Parkinson
Dr Richard Parkinson is a Fellowship trained neurointerventional neurosurgeon and minimally invasive spinal surgeon based in Sydney. He has been performing minimally invasive and complex spinal surgery for 18+ years and has built his reputation on his conservative approach to surgery. He operates at Sydney’s leading private hospitals and has performed surgery on a very significant volume of patients requiring both straight-forward and complex spine surgery. Read his full biography here.