Blood-sucking leeches are better for back pain than physio, study claims

Blood-sucking leeches are better for back pain than physio, study claims

LEECHES are more effective than physio at tackling back pain, a study reveals.
Sufferers reported their discomfort halved after just one session with half a dozen of the blood-sucking parasites.
Oxford Scientific – Getty Leeches are better at helping to relieve back pain physio sessions, researchers say
Patients also slashed their painkiller use by two-thirds, according to the first ever trial of leech therapy for chronic lower back pain.
But participants told to spend an hour a week doing commonly-prescribed exercises with a physical therapist saw little improvement.
German researchers claim leech saliva works as both a painkiller and a muscle relaxant. It contains more than 100 biologically active chemicals.
They said their results show the medieval treatment is more effective than physio, exercise, yoga or acupuncture at treating back pain.
Around one in three Brits is affected each year, making it the single biggest cause of disability. It means up to 20 million people struggle with their back annually.
Leech therapy appears to be superior to exercise and most other non-pharmacological therapies.Dr Andreas Michalsen
Lead researcher Dr Andreas Michalsen, from the Immanuel Hospital in Berlin, said leeches could offer a potential solution.
He said: “Leech therapy appears to be superior to exercise and most other non-pharmacological therapies.
“As chronic low back pain is a common complaint and most of the patients studied benefitted from leech therapy, there is a relevant potential for this therapy.  The predominant mechanism appears to be the saliva and its pharmacological action.”
The study, involving 44 patients, was reported in the medical journal Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.
Around half had one hour-long session with between four and seven leeches placed on their lower back. The other group had four weekly classes of exercise therapy.
A month on pain symptoms had dropped by 46 per cent in the patients who had the leech therapy, but by only seven per cent in the rest.
The use of painkillers dropped by 70 per cent in those whose blood had been sucked, compared to 11 per cent for those doing gentle exercise.
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Commenting on the study, Chartered Physiotherapist Ashley James, said: “Whilst the evidence around back pain is continually moving on there is no quick fix for it unfortunately, whether that’s a new gadget or in this case, leech therapy.
“It can be a complex issue and is usually a mix of physical, psychological and social parts; everyone’s experience will be different so there is no one size fits all solution.
“However you can be confident that in 98 per cent of cases of back pain you are safe to move and won’t cause any more ‘damage’; it can actually be beneficial.”
Getty – Contributor Millions of Brits suffer from back pain

Teen hunched over with back pain gets clicked into place by chiropractor


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