Israeli breakthrough puts the boot into back problems

By Leon Symons, September 24, 2009
One of the special trainers which are central to the treatment of back pain

One of the special trainers which are central to the treatment of back pain

An invention by two Israeli doctors could bring relief to millions of Britons suffering from chronic back and knee pain.

Dr Amit Mor, 41, and 43-year-old Dr Avi Elbaz are pioneering what they call the APOS treatment — All Phases of Step Cycle. It has been brought to Britain by private healthcare provider Bupa.

Although currently available only to private patients, the doctors hope it will be soon adopted by the NHS. Just under half of British adults are said to have suffered back pain in the last year and one-in-four has experienced knee pain in the same period.

“We carried out research from 1993 to 2000 before we started so that we understood what we needed to do,” Dr Mor said. “We saw that people were in pain even after they had treatment. Our treatment brings back control of the nerves and muscles around a joint.”

In Israel, more than 13,000 people have been treated through the APOS system, including some of the nation’s sporting stars.

Patients start a six-to-eight month course of treatment with a 90-minute assessment, including lifestyle questions and a stint on a computerised walkway which maps walking and deportment. They are then fitted with specially-made trainers, under which hang two semi-circular discs, to be worn at varying times.

“In order to return muscular stability, we needed to introduce some kind of mild, muscular instability,” Dr Mor explained. “The discs get the muscles and nerves working again.

“It’s like walking on a wobble board in that the patient has to use muscles they might not normally use.”

Bushey resident Laura Samuels, 47, the wife of kosher caterer Neil Samuels, used the APOS system after splitting the anterior cruciate ligament on both knees.

“I was in severe pain and could hardly walk,” she said. “I had an operation on one knee and was considering the same for the other when a friend who was in Bupa told me about this treatment.

“I started in February and have been pain-free since. I wear the trainers every day at work for a short period and the transformation is quite amazing”.

Last updated: 5:27pm, September 24 2009