Viagra for a stiff back? Scientists say ED drug could treat sciatica

sciaticaWe all know erectile dysfunction drug Viagra has been helping men get ‘stiff’ in the bedroom for almost 20 years now, but could it prove to be a potent remedy in the fight against stiff backs?

This could indeed be the case after Turkish researchers looked into the potential of Viagra – also known as ‘the little blue pill’ – being utilised as a treatment for sciatica.

Tests involving rats seemed to demonstrate that the wonder male impotence drug manages to alleviate the painful symptoms associated with sciatica, a painful condition which affects a million UK men and 400,000 women.

Researchers involved in the tests made the discovery that a daily dose of the erectile dysfunction treatment can quicken recovery. Taking Viagra for a month also managed to heal damaged nerves and helped increase movement.

Exercise, acupuncture, and an anti-inflammatory painkiller such as naproxen or diclofenac are the usually the first port of call for treating sciatica, but in more serious scenarios – such as if the pain has lasted more than 6 weeks, the patient could need surgery to stop the pain from reoccurring.

However, scientists based in Malatya, eastern Turkey, found anti-impotence medication Viagra to be successful at offering pain relief during tests on 30 rats.

The scientists administered a daily dose of Viagra to some of the rats they tested, and others were given a smaller amount every other day, whilst some rats received none of the drug at all.

Remarkably, the rats given the daily dose of Viagra actually ended up being able to enjoy more movement in comparison to those in the other groups.

Scans were conducted on the rats, finding they had higher levels of nerve regeneration, meaning that Viagra had accelerated the body’s healing mechanisms.

The drug would appear to work by boosting the blood supply to damaged areas. Scientists commented in a report: “We believe a daily dose of Viagra plays an important role in treatment of sciatic nerve damage.”

Sciatica is the term used for when pain caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve. If the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or irritated, it usually results in pain, numbness and a tingling sensation emanating from the lower back and travelling down one of your legs to your foot and toes.

Many pregnant women incorrectly believe they have sciatica – in fact they are more likely to be suffering with pelvic girdle pain (PGP), which is much more common and has some of the same symptoms as sciatica.

While people with sciatica may suffer with general back pain, the pain caused by the condition is primarily located in the buttocks and legs much more than the back.

Depending on how the condition is defined, an estimated 2% to 40% of people will suffer with sciatica at some point in their life. It is more predominant in people aged in their 40s and 50s, and perhaps surprisingly to some, it is actually men who are often more affected than women.

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