Clinical trial studies non-surgical treatment for lower back pain

April 7, 2014

A clinical trial being conducted at Lawson is currently recruiting patients suffering from lower back pain caused by a contained herniated disc to investigate a new, non-surgical treatment.

The trial is studying a minimally invasive injection of natural gases designed to dissolve a small amount of disc tissue in order to resolve the disc herniation. The treatment does not use a high-temperature device and avoids surgical removal of the tissue. LHSC’s University Hospital is one of the first sites in North America to study this novel treatment.

A meta-analysis of 8,000 patients undergoing this treatment in Europe showed that more than 70 per cent experienced improvement in their pain, with a very low rate of complications.

“For patients who have failed conservative therapy and steroid injections, the only options today are prescription medication or surgery,” said Dr. Donald Lee, one of the Lawson investigators, and a neuroradiologist at LHSC. “In our clinical trial, we are exploring a less invasive option to fill this treatment gap that is hoped to provide patients with significant improvement or resolution of their back pain.”

The treatment was co-developed by Kieran Murphy, M.D., Professor of Radiology at the University Health Network in Toronto.

Contained herniated discs, often called “bulging discs,” occur when the outer layer of the disc weakens and the inner core of the disc bulges into the area where the nerves are located. This common condition can cause pain down the leg or in the lower back.

This treatment is considered investigational and is not authorized for sale in Canada. However, the researchers  are recruiting patients for the trial, which is sponsored by ActiveO, Inc. For more information about the clinical trial, contact Tami Forsgren at

 Woman with hands on back