Ozone – the highly reactive gas linked to air pollution – helps relieve pain caused by herniated disc problems, new research shows.
The ‘ozone layer’ located miles above the Earth’s surface protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. But, at ground level, ozone can inflame and damage the lining of the lungs.
The latest research on the pain-relieving effect of injectable ozone involved 327 volunteers with long-term back problems for whom other treatments failed to work. Discs serve as shock absorbers for the spine but, when inflamed, they bulge or break open and can press on nearby nerves. People with herniated discs may feel pain or numbness in their back, buttocks and legs as a result.
After a single injection of ozone mixed with steroid medicine (to reduce inflammation), 37 percent of study participants said they remained pain-free up to six months after the injection. Another third of the volunteers reported less frequent episodes of back pain after the injection. The remainder saw little or no improvement, or said their pain worsened.
It is theorized that the ozone kills compounds in the body that trigger inflammation, which shrink the discs and ease pressure on nerves. The steroid further reduces inflammation.
“If you reduce the volume, it won’t be pushing against the nerve and causing pain,” said research leader Dr. Thomas Lehnert at Frankfurt University in Germany.