With millions of people reporting to doctor’s offices each year and billions of dollars being spent to ease the effects of ‘bad backs’, there is little wonder why scientists have placed so much emphasis on finding new and groundbreaking solutions.
The team led by Lawrence Bonassar, Ph.D. from Cornell University is no exception. However, this team may have just succeeded at creating something truly miraculous.
Bonassar and his team have developed artificial discs that could potential replace the bulging, ruptured, or otherwise damaged discs existing in a large percentage of chronic pain patients. The discs were engineered and tested in animals with great success and the hope is that this same procedure could prove useful for the millions who have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease or herniated discs.
Today, surgeons must rely on the practice of discectomy, whereby they remove the damaged disc and fuse the nearby vertebrae. Though effective, the surgery frequently leaves patients are often left with continued discomfort. Even if the pain is fully eliminated, the surgery can reduce mobility, making it a difficult decision for a person with an active lifestyle. Certain types of back surgery have a greater risk of resulting in failed back surgery syndrome, a condition we frequently treat at clinic.
Using hydrogel and collagen, Bonassar’s team engineered discs that function in the same way that the natural discs would. By seeding the implants, they were able to encourage new tissue growth, which was actually seen to improve the spinal structure over time, as opposed to the implant experiencing degradation. Unlike other implants, these do not have the same risks of moving around in the body or depositing particles elsewhere from wear and tear.
This discovery holds great hope for a large population with back pain and possibly reduce the number of failed back surgery syndrome suffers. If you are interested in learning more about it, keep reading here.