Biological treatment for degenerative disc disease: implications for the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2008 Sep;87(9):694-702
Authors: Zhang Y, An HS, Tannoury C, Thonar EJ, Freedman MK, Anderson DG

Spine care is a fast-growing sector of the outpatient practice for physiatrists. Current nonsurgical treatment modalities and surgical options for severe symptomatic intervertebral disc degeneration have limited and inconsistent clinical results. Thus, the development of novel approaches, such as biological treatments that offer the potential to halt or even reverse disc degeneration and restore physiologic disc function, are very attractive. In this article, we first review the structural changes that occur during intervertebral disc degeneration and their relationship with discogenic back pain. Subsequently, we review the treatment approaches currently under clinical trial and laboratory investigation. Physiatrists specializing in spine care have the skill set required for administering intradiscal injections and supervising a comprehensive rehabilitation program after the procedures. Ultimately, the clinical use of any biological treatment discussed herein would require the collective efforts of physicians (such as physiatrists and surgeons) and researchers (such as chemical and biomedical engineers, biologists, and chemists).

PMID: 18716481 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]