Ozone therapy has been used to treat disc herniation for more than four decades. There are several papers describing results and mechanism of action. However, it is very important to define the characteristics of extruded disc herniation. Although ozone therapy showed excellent results in the majority of spinal diseases, it is not yet fully accepted within the medical community. Perhaps it is partly due to the fact that, sometimes, indications are not appropriately made. The objective of our work is to explain the mechanisms of action of ozone therapy on the extruded disc herniation. Indeed, these mechanisms are quite different from those exerted by ozone on the protruded disc herniation and on the degenerative disc disease because the inflammatory response is very different between the various cases. Extruded disc herniation occurs when the nucleus squeezes through a weakness or tear in the annulus. Host immune system considers the nucleus material to be a foreign invader, which triggers an immune response and inflammation. We think ozone therapy modulates this immune response, activating macrophages, which produce phagocytosis of extruded nucleus pulposus. Ozone would also facilitate the passage from the M1 to M2 phase of macrophages, going from an inflammatory phase to a reparative phase. Further studies are needed to verify the switch of macrophages.
Keywords: disc herniation; extrusion; intervertebral disc; nucleus pulposus; ozone therapy.