If you or anyone you know has ever dealt with a serious or chronic back problem, even if it isn’t a life-threatening problem, you understand how desperately some people want to find relief. In some cases, it can lead patients to consider medical options that are not yet widely available, either because they are still undergoing experiments in human subjects, or because they are unavailable due to bureaucratic restrictions.
In most cases, use of experimental procedures will not be appropriate for the majority of patients because the possible side effects or repercussions from pursuing experimental treatments can outweigh the advantages,. But in certain cases, people feel that they just can’t wait until a treatment option has become available in their area. For some of these people, the option to volunteer for clinical tests may be a good choice.
Why would someone want to volunteer for a clinical trial? The advantage is that patients will be able to get access to new treatment options right away. This can be very important for patients facing potentially fatal, extremely debilitating, or fast-acting diseases who are unhappy with the treatment they’ve had through more standard procedures. It can also be a more financially viable option for some people, if they might not otherwise be able to afford a new medication.
Why wouldn’t someone want to volunteer for a clinical trial? In most cases, standard medical options will be sufficient to treat most cases of common illnesses or injuries. For this reason, the potential cost and risk associated with pursuing an experimental treatment may not be worth it. In some cases, pursuing an experimental treatment may require visiting another state or another country.
What’s an example of an experimental treatment for back pain? Last year, researchers announced successful experiments in rats of a drug that released nerve fibers that had become trapped in scar tissue in the spine, preventing proper healing. After just a few weeks, rats had improved mobility in the back and improvement in bladder control. This was an especially significant result for patients who had experienced spinal injuries that caused issues with walking and bladder control. The next step is trial in human patients, which can take several years before the drug can be released to the general market.
Dr. Kamson recommends that any patients feeling frustrated with traditional treatment options for back pain talk to a specialist and get a second opinion before pursuing treatment through something like a clinical trial. There are a wide variety of treatments for back pain that are currently available and have FDA approval. It’s important to make sure that you have pursued all reasonable options before trying something else, especially if you aren’t clear on the potential side effects.