One of the primary purposes of spinal discs is to cushion the spine’s vertebrae. Over time, the discs wear down, with disc fluid drying up or leaking when the wear is bad enough. This condition is known as DDD or degenerative disc disease. DDD causes significant pain, and people are less mobile as a result of the problem. While this is a common issue, treatment is limited to painkillers, physical therapy, and rest. When the wear is bad enough, surgery may be recommended, with the disc or discs being replaced with prosthetics.
Medical researchers have been researching hydrogel as an alternative to these treatments. When injected into the affected area, hydrogel is meant to fill the cracks to provide cushioning between the vertebrae, which reduces the pain. So far, there has been one trial involving 20 patients with chronic lower back pain. They ranged in age between 22 and 69 years old and described the pain as being at least a four on the 10-point scale. The hydrogel was first heated, then injected into the affected discs. Upon cooling in the body, it works as an implant without the surgery. Patients were then assessed over six months. All 20 patients experienced more mobility and less pain.
More studies are needed as this trial was a very small sample, but it is a promising study that may give patients a better solution to a common issue.
You can read the full article at Injectable Hydrogel Treats Back Pain from Damaged Discs in Human Trials. The page includes links to further details if you want to know more about the study’s findings.