NUI Galway researchers find potential new treatment for back pain

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A team at NUI Galway’s Cúram Medical Devices research centre have published a study containing a potential new, non-invasive treatment for lower back pain.

The team at Cúram, lead by Professor Abhay Pandit, developed a method of using a gel made from hyaluronan, also known as hyaluronic acid, to regenerate intervertebral discs.

These discs between the spine’s vertebrae can degenerate over time, compressing the nerves and other vertebrae, this can cause inflammation and severe pain.

According to Professor Pandit this new method has significant advantages over current treatment options for back pain.

“The hyaluronan formulation we have developed can be adapted to an injectable system which is far preferable to surgical intervention in these cases.

Professor Pandit says he hope this research could lead to benefits for people who suffer from chronic back pain.

“Our aim at Cúram is to radically improve the quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness and this research takes us a step forward toward to doing just that for sufferers of chronic disc degeneration and lower back pain.

Lower back pain might not sound like a massive threat to society but it can have a serious impact on the economy due to healthcare costs and lost working days.

The cost to treat back pain in Ireland alone is €5.34 billion every year, a figure that could well go up as the population continues to age.

Over 48% of Europeans and 80% of Americans experience lower back pain at some point in their lives due to degeneration of their intervertebral discs.