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A tiny pellet no bigger than a grain of rice could banish the agony of sciatica — a major cause of back pain.
Implanted in the spine, it gradually releases painkilling medicine.
Plastic - Miniature - Pellet - Supply - Drug
Made from biodegradable plastic, the miniature pellet slowly breaks down, releasing a constant supply of the drug into the affected area. It provides relief for up to a year before it needs replacing.
Crucially, it contains a new type of painkiller, clonidine, which does not have the same addictive properties as potent opioid drugs often used to treat severe pain.
Trial - Way - West - Virginia - University
A major trial is under way at West Virginia University in the U.S. in around 200 patients with sciatica to see if the pellet could give them long-term pain relief and avoid the need for surgery.
Sciatica affects around one person in 20 at some point.
Irritation - Compression - Nerve - Bottom - Spine
It is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the bottom of the spine to the knee. It can be triggered by bending awkwardly, lifting heavy items, sitting for long periods and being overweight, but is most often due to ageing.
The spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae, each stacked on top of one another. In between each bone and the next is a circular pad of tissue, or disc. These discs have a tough outer case which surrounds a gel-like substance called nucleus pulposus, and water to keep it moist and flexible.
Problems - Outer - Gel - Water - Pressure
Problems arise when the outer casing gets damaged as the soft gel and water inside leak and put pressure on the sciatic nerve, which causes...
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