People suffering from spinal injuries like low back pain and disc disorder now have a reason to smile as injections of ozone gas could bring better results than conventional surgery.
Ozonucleolysis, as the treatment is medically known, has started gaining ground in western countries, according to senior doctors who are here for a conference on the subject.
'Ozonucleolysis or ozone discectomy for curing spinal injury is a better option than surgery. This new form of treatment is less painful as well as cost effective,' Vijay Sheel Kumar, president of the World Federation of Ozone Therapy (WFOT), told IANS.
Over 40 dignitaries from countries like Spain, Italy and Germany are here to train doctors and share the finer nuances of the treatment,' Kumar said.
'In case of surgery, the chance of recurrence of pain is nearly 15 percent as against less than three percent in ozone treatment. In the new treatment, patients don't have to stay in the hospital for a week. Only six sittings of one hour each spread over three weeks can cure the problem,' said Kumar.
Ozonucleolysis has emerged as an affordable, least invasive approach and costs two-thirds the price of a conventional surgery.
Ozone discectomy is the injection of ozone inside the affected intervertebral disc. When injected, Ozone (O3) breaks down into O2 and O (single oxygen) and rapidly dissolves in the water in the disc.
As per the new technique, ozone is injected in the spine with 22G needle under the fluoroscopic guidance, with 4ml of a mixture of ozone and oxygen at a concentration of 30 micrograms per millilitre.
It causes shrinkage of the disc, thus reducing its volume and lessening pressure on the nerves. The treatment relieves pain substantially and, after two sittings, people 'can go back to work under medical guidance', Kumar explained.
Said Jose B. Noci, a senior ozone therapist of Spain: 'Apart from a large number of people in Italy and Germany, nearly 4,000 patients are availing themselves of ozone treatment in Spain every year.'
He added: 'Since the number of affected people is much more in India than the above countries, both the patients and doctors can benefit from the new technique. While the patient can benefit from the low cost, a large pool of doctors can adopt the new expertise.'
Citing a study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Health, Kumar said that around 63 percent of bidi makers suffer from recurring back pain.
In the US, back pain affects nearly 60 percent of the population, with nearly 500,000 back injuries being reported every year. While Sweden spends nearly $775 million per year due to low back disorder, the problem costs the US over $50 billion.
'The rapid industrialisation and growth in the BPO (business process outsourcing) sector, where people spend maximum of their day's time in a chair, will make spinal injury a major health concern for India,' said Kumar, a neurological surgeon with over 30 years of expertise.
Kumar said fewer than 10 doctors in India are currently equipped to conduct this procedure.