Latest Innovations for Treating Disc Degeneration

Latest Innovations for Treating Disc Degeneration

Chronic back pain is considered the number one cause of musculoskeletal disability worldwide. As the fifth most common reason for a physician visit, it affects five out of ten working adults and is responsible for causing 40% of missed days off work. Unfortunately most people will experience acute back pain at some point in their lives.

The most common cause of back pain among younger and middle aged adults is related to tears of the collagen fibers in the disc. These tears by themselves can cause pain, or if a significant number of fibers tear, the disc can bulge and herniate. Bulges and herniation can be a source of irritation or can compress spinal nerves causing “sciatica”. Over time, if the disc does not repair its’ self, it deteriorates and leads to spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spaces around the spinal nerves and causing pain in the arms or legs.

Up until recently, for patients with injured discs and chronic pain, the only options were to wait and hope the disc heals itself and if not, then treat the symptoms. Recently in sports medicine it was discovered that platelets obtained from the blood and other cells in the bone marrow can be used to repair chronically torn non-healing ligaments and tendons. Dr. Bodor was among the first to utilize these in the Bay Area and, given that he is also an expert on treating the spine, was among the first to use this technique for disc pain. Dr. Bodor described the rationale for the technique and pilot series of patients in a chapter in the textbook, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), editor Lana, publisher Springer, 2014 (available on Dr. Greg Lutz, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, published positive results for PRP for disc pain in a randomized blinded placebo-controlled trial in the journal PMR in January 2016.

Owing to the relatively low available blood supply in the disc, the introduction of concentrated platelets can seal tears and contribute vital growth and healing factors to facilitate natural repair processes. Dr. Bodor has administered PRP therapy to discs experiencing some degree of degeneration in the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine. With the support of the Napa Medical Research Foundation, he and Research Assistant Yvette Uribe are carefully monitoring the progress of more than 170 patients to prove the effectiveness of the PRP as a healing agent. The findings thus far yield a minimum 75% improvement rate.

Of special interest is the new technique Dr. Bodor developed during the course of the study. Whenever needles are placed into the neck, a high degree of skill and vigilance is necessary to ensure safety and comfort in doing the procedure. Traditionally such injection procedures are done using x-rays only, but Dr. Bodor developed a technique combining ultrasound and x-rays which allows for better visualization of the carotid arteries, brachial plexus and other vulnerable structures and ensure precise placement into the discs or the cervical facet joints.

Dr. Bodor and his research team were recently asked to write a review article on the evidence for PRP and stem cells in treating chronic painful muscle and ligament injuries. Their work is currently going into publication in Techniques in Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, a peer-reviewed journal published by Elsevier.

Learn More about our clinical studies on Disc Degeneration


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 Reduce Pain. Increase Mobility + Function. Improve Quality of Life.

All the research conducted through the Napa Medical Research Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is fully funded through generous donations received from individuals and family foundations.

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