‘The Times’ has recently reported on the successful outcome of a year-long trial of ReActiv8, an implant designed to stimulate nerves in the spinal cord in order to relieve long-term back pain.

A reversible surgical procedure allows the tiny device to be inserted beneath the skin. This device sends electrical impulses which cause the dorsal ramus nerve in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine to contract the multifidus muscle for 30 minutes twice a day. The multifidus muscle is located close to the spine, starting at the base of the spine and extending up to the second cervical vertebra in the neck. It is key to maintaining support and stability of the spine, thereby helping it to function effectively.

The trial found that some patients’ pain levels had reduced by one third after three months and fifty percent of the participants expressed a significant improvement in their pain and quality of life.

Vivek Mehta, the consultant in charge of the trial, suggested that after three or four years, a patient may have built up sufficient muscle strength to come off the treatment.

Spinal stimulation is a relatively new technology and it is hoped that on-going research and developments in delivery and type of stimulation will improve outcomes and quality of life for long-term sufferers of back pain.

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