Back pain has been ranked by many health institutions, including the WHO (World Health Organization) as a significant cause of disability to people of all ages. Some key back pain facts and statistics to note include:
- The lifetime prevalence of back pain is approximated at 60%-70% in industrialized countries
- Over 8% of the United States population suffers severe lower back pain.
- 60% of people who do not report to work annually cite back pain as the primary cause of their absence from work.
- The prevalence of back pain peaks between the age of 35 and 55.
- Approximately 540 million people suffer back pain worldwide.
- Most people suffering back pain receive treatment in a manner that is not consistent with best practices
A majority of treatment options administered for back pain, especially the use of painkillers and surgery, do not address the underlying cause of back pain. It is for this reason that scientists are experimenting with several biotechnological options that can offer one-off treatment to cease back pain.
Some of the most notable biotechnological innovations that could obliterate back pain include:
Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are the cells from which all other cells with specialized functions such as blood cells or brain cells are generated. When placed under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, they divide to form daughter cells. The daughter cells either become other stem cells or specialized cells.
Some of the reasons why doctors and researchers have significant interests in stem cells include:
- To increase understanding of how various diseases occur
- To foster regenerative medicine where healthy cells are generated to replace diseased cells
- To test new drugs that are more safe and effective to administer on multiple ailments
How does stem cell therapy for back pain work?
Regenerative medicine is the next phase of organ transplants. Researchers get stem cells from various sources, including:
- Adult tissues
- Perinatal sources such as amniotic fluids or umbilical cord blood
The cells are then grown in the lab and manipulated into specialized cells that can develop in various parts associated with the back, such as discs and facet joints. The specialized cells are then implanted into the suffering part of the back, for example, a damaged disc. Consequently, the healthy injected cells repair the defective disc, thereby restoring its structure and functions.
Some back pain conditions treatable through stem cells include:
- Degenerative Disc Disease, Herniated Discs, and Sciatica; associated with lumbar back pain
- Facet Joint Dysfunction that results in neck and middle back pain
Unlike other forms of therapies for back pain that are readily accessible from wellness centers such as Physiotherapy clinic in Brampton, spinal decompression is a technology still in its infancy stages.
Despite being a mode of back pain treatment that is still being widely experimented on various sample groups, spinal decompression therapy is FDA cleared. The ministration has proved to work in relieving back pain. It offers an excellent option for patients who want to avoid surgical treatments for back pain.
The back pain complications redeemable through spinal decompression include:
- Herniated Disc
- Degenerative Disc Disease
How does spinal decompression for back pain work?
The herniated and degenerative disc diseases detriment the spine by significantly reducing intradiscal pressure.
The intervertebral disc is a mechanical structure. The disc consists of a central gel-like NP (Nucleus Pulposus) and surrounding AF (Anulus Fibrosus). The AF has a unique lamellar structure. Each layer of AF is majorly composed of type I collagen. The collagen fibres, which alter at sequential layers, are organized in an oblique direction.
On the other hand, NP is characterized by a gel-like structure; majorly made up of proteoglycans. The proteoglycans are sandwiched in a type II collagen matrix. The NP expands its volume through swelling and attracts water molecules. Thus, it remains pressurized when it is in a healthy state.
As one engages in different activities over time, the spinal disc can experience pressure changes, consequently undergoing deformation. The altered mechanics, thus strains the spinal discs, thereby altering their functionality.
Decompression therapy utilizes traction tables to relax and stretch the spine. The relaxation and stretching are carried out intermittently and consistently. Resultantly, the bulging material characterizing the altered mechanics of the disc is brought back into the disk. Additionally, a passageway for healing nutrients is created, thus nourishing the spinal misalignments with supplies necessary for healing to take effect.
The CRISPR approach
CRISPR, pronounced ‘crisper’, is a genome editing technology that allows researchers to alter DNA sequence and modify gene function. The technology bears many potential applications, including:
- Correction of gene defects
- Treating and preventing the spread of disease
- Improving crop yield
Over time, a lot of research has been conducted on utilizing CRISPR-CaS 9 as a gene-editing tool for treating back pain. CRISPR-CaS 9 provides a means by which a cut or break can be inserted into a DNA. The cut or break, thus, tricks a cell’s natural DNA repair mechanism. The gene-editing mechanism can be used to cure back pain-related complications clinically.
Another option that scientists have been testing to fix back pain are bio-synthetic discs. The discs are created out of synthetic material and have promised more flexibility than spinal fusion.
Various animal testings done on the biosynthetic discs have proved successful. These testings were first applied to rats, and are currently being tested on goats. The goats that were subjected to the bio-experiment displayed a reasonable range of motion when subjected to various stressors. Consequently, despite not having been rigorously tested on humans, bio-synthetic discs are a promising biotechnological innovation to relieving back pain.