Tiny rollers may keep a bad back flexible, the new device has been designed and developed by researchers at Brigham Young University in US, which they claim imitates the flexibility of the spine. It can act as an alternative to damaged discs, which give similar range of movements as the real one.
Once implanted the tiny roller perform the rolling action that allows spine to move in diverse directions. The discs may become the source of back pain when they degenerate. Spinal discs contain a gel-like substance that helps cushion the vertebrae during movement. In some cases the gel bulges out and presses on the nerves and causing pain around the discs
It also caused pain in the part of the body that was controlled by the nerve. The causes of disc degeneration include ageing, genes and general wear-and-tear. Treatments for condition may range from painkiller and physiotherapy to surgery. One of the most frequent forms of treatment is spinal fusion.
In spinal fusion, the vertebrae on either side of the damaged disc are welded together to make one solid bone, with the help of inserting a piece of metal between the vertebra and the disc. But the surgery can limit the flexibility of the spine may restrict movement. Less than fifty percent of patients are satisfied with fusion surgery
But, the new device may overcome this problem because it is the same size as a short cotton reel and consists of two plates, sandwiching a roller. The new tiny roller can move forwards, backwards and side to side. The device is inserted between the vertebra and disc that are tiny spikes in the plates anchor it in place, leaving the roller unimpeded.
The early trial on spines of animals and humans suggest that the device provides significantly more flexibility than ordinary disc alternate. The researchers are now using the device in larger clinical trials, and if these are successful they hope to launch the technology in the next three years.
Jane Tadman from Arthritis Research UK, while commenting on the technology, stated they welcome news of this new implant. Disc replacement allows a close approximation to the normal spine by allowing it to remain flexible, however new designs need adequate testing.