Backache beaten by good vibrations?

University of Manchester researchers are recruiting people with backache caused by nerve root pain commonly known as sciatica in the first ever study to discover if therapeutic ultrasound can help their condition.

Dr Christopher McCarthy and his team at the University's Centre for Rehabilitation Science need 30 volunteers aged 22-55 who have had sciatica for less than 12 weeks, are not pregnant and have not had previous spinal surgery.

The volunteers will receive advice on managing their pain and either eight sessions of therapeutic ultrasound (TU) or eight sessions of sham TU. They will also be assessed for pain, disability and general health before the trial, immediately after the trial and again six months later.

Dr McCarthy explains: "Sciatica is an extremely common and disabling condition treated by physiotherapists.

"The pain caused by inflammation of lumbar nerve roots could potentially be reduced with the application of TU, a form of electrotherapy commonly used by physiotherapists to accelerate the resolution of the inflammatory process in a multitude of soft-tissue injuries. The study aims to address the unanswered question of whether TU is effective in reducing pain and disability in patients with lower back pain caused by sciatica.

"Obviously this will not only help us find out more about effective treatment, it will help the volunteers understand more about their condition."

The study is a double blind randomized trial with both the volunteer and treating physiotherapist unaware of the treatment allocation.


To volunteer contact Fiona Stirling, Research Coordinator, Centre for Rehabilitation Science, University of Manchester on 0161 276 6946, or Mr Ioannis Paneris, Senior Physiotherapist, Manchester Royal Infirmary on 0161 276 4700.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Dr Christopher McCarthy please contact Media Relations Officers Mikaela Sitford or Jo Nightingale on 0161 275 2111 or 8156.

Editor's Note:
The Centre for Rehabilitation Science is committed to the initiation, promotion, execution and dissemination of high quality research in all aspects of rehabilitation, in order to optimise functional performance and thus maximise the quality of life of individuals. Opened in September 1997, under the Directorship of Professor Jackie Oldham, The Centre is a collaborative venture between the University of Manchester and Central Manchester & Manchester Children's University Hospital NHS Trust. The Centre forms part of the Division of Epidemiology and Health Sciences in the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester. For more information visit The Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences is large and comprehensive, with all the important healthcare disciplines represented in both research and teaching and a distinguished history. The School of Medicine traces its past to the first medical school established in England outside London, the School of Nursing was the first British school to offer a degree in the subject, and similarly Manchester was the first university to award degrees in Pharmacy. Today, the Faculty boasts an annual research income of 51m, almost a third of the University's total research income. There are 7,600 undergraduate students and 1,600 postgraduates on award-bearing courses. More students graduate each year from the School of Medicine than from any other medical school in the UK.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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