Clinical Trials for Herniated disc

If you have a herniated disc in your neck (cervical spine) or low back (lumbar spine), you may qualify to participate in a clinical trial.  Disc herniation occurs when the matter inside a disc (called the nucleus pulposus) erupts through or leaks outside the disc’s protective outer layer (called the annulus fibrosus).  The outcomes of clinical trials have taught doctors much about the spine’s intervertebral discs, such as disc herniation can occur suddenly or progressively over a long period of time.

Why consider a clinical trial to treat a herniated disc?  While participating in a clinical trial is not appropriate for every patient with an intervertebral disc problem, it is an opportunity for some to receive treatment at a top-level institution, often near home.  It is also a way to contribute to the advancement of medical care.

Am I a Qualified Candidate for a Herniated Disc Clinical Trial?

The answer to that question depends in part on the type of study and its inclusion and exclusion criteria.  A clinical trial studies a particular aspect of disc herniation, such as its detection and diagnosis, novel treatments with or without spine surgery, or finding better ways to prevent disc damage.  The purpose of each clinical trial is very specific.


Inclusion and exclusion criteria are regulations the clinical trial coordinator uses for patient selection.  The inclusion criteria are a pre-approved set of details that describes the ideal patient.  For example, a research study for cervical (neck) disc herniation may only include patients with a single-level herniation (eg, C3-C4).  Perhaps the ideal patient has undergone six months of non-operative care with anti-inflammatory medication, cervical injection, and physical therapy.

Exclusion criteria—meaning something that disqualifies someone from participating, may include pregnancy, multi-level degenerative disc disease, prior cervical surgery, or diabetes.

Carefully review in the inclusion and exclusion criteria of clinical trials to see if you’re able to participate.

Clinical Trial Risks:  Are They Safe?

The clinical trial coordinator (or investigator) thoroughly explains all the benefits and risks of participating in a herniated disc study.  There are many rules associated with conducting a clinical trial.  These are necessary to ensure patient safety, so rest assured that if you participate in a herniated disc clinical trial, you will be well taken care of.