University of Manchester researchers are recruiting people with backache caused by nerve root pain - commonly known as sciatica - in the first ever study to discover if therapeutic ultrasound can help their condition.
Dr Christopher McCarthy and his team at the University's Centre for Rehabilitation Science need 30 volunteers aged 22-55 who have had sciatica for less than 12 weeks, are not pregnant and have not had previous spinal surgery.
The volunteers will receive advice on managing their pain and either eight sessions of therapeutic ultrasound (TU) or eight sessions of sham TU. They will also be assessed for pain, disability and general health before the trial, immediately after the trial and again six months later.
Dr McCarthy explains: "Sciatica is an extremely common and disabling condition treated by physiotherapists.
"The pain caused by inflammation of lumbar nerve roots could potentially be reduced with the application of TU, a form of electrotherapy commonly used by physiotherapists to accelerate the resolution of the inflammatory process in a multitude of soft-tissue injuries. The study aims to address the unanswered question of whether TU is effective in reducing pain and disability in patients with lower back pain caused by sciatica.
"Obviously this will not only help us find out more about effective treatment, it will help the volunteers understand more about their condition."
The study is a double blind randomized trial with both the volunteer and treating physiotherapist unaware of the treatment allocation.
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