Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit, Azienda Policlinico Umberto I, Rome, Italy.
STUDY DESIGN: Multicenter randomized, double-blind, simulated therapy-controlled trial in a cohort of patients with acute low back pain (LBP) due to lumbar disc herniation (LDH).
OBJECTIVE: To assess the benefit of intramuscular-paravertebral injections of an oxygen-ozone (O2O3) mixture. SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND DATA: Recent findings have shown that O2O3 therapy can be used to treat LDH that fails to respond to conservative management. However, these findings are based on intradiscal/intraforaminal O2O3 injection, whereas intramuscular-paravertebral injection is the technique used most in clinical practice in Italy and other Western countries.
METHODS: Sixty patients suffering from acute LBP caused by LDH was randomized to an intramuscular O2O3 or control group. Patients were observed up to assess pain intensity, LBP-related disability, and drug intake (15 [V2] and 30 [V3] days after treatment started, and 2 weeks [V4], and 3 [V5] and 6 [V6] months after treatment ended).
RESULTS: A significant difference between the 2 groups in the percentage of cases who had become pain-free (61% vs. 33%, P < 0.05) was observed at V6. Patients who received O2O3 had a lower mean pain score than patients who received simulated therapy throughout the observation period. A significant improvement was observed in LBP-related disability in the study group patients when compared with the control group patients. Active O2O3 therapy was followed by a significantly lower number of days on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs at V2 and V3 and by a lower number of days at V4. No adverse events were reported.
CONCLUSION: Treatment of LBP and sciatica is a major concern. Although the natural history of acute LBP is often self-limiting, conservative therapies are not always effective; in such cases, O2O3 intramuscular lumbar paravertebral injections, which are minimally invasive, seem to safely and effectively relieve pain, as well as reduce both disability and the intake of analgesic drugs.