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Back pain has a major impact on people’s quality of life. A painful back leaves you debilitated and unable to move which restricts your mobility, reduces social interaction and can prevent people from working which leads to financial and career setbacks.
Painkillers can help you to cope with the pain and it is recommended that you exercise gently since this will help the muscles and can speed up recovery. If necessary, a physiotherapist can provide advice on the best exercises to do.
A number of approaches to pain relief are available from backsupport.co.uk. The most exciting area of development is called TENS (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation). TENS works by sending an electrical signal through electrodes placed on the skin. These electrical signals block or mask the messages from the nerves to the brain carrying the pain information. A TENS machine should only be used on healthy skin. Numb or damaged skin or wounded areas may not have sufficient nerve signals to indicate that the electrical signal is too strong which can lead to further injuries. There is an element of trial and error where you change the size and time of the electrical signal to provide the maximum amount of pain relief.
The more traditional approach is to use hot or cold temperatures to sooth the painful area. Warm packs such as our lavender-scented wheat bags or our hot and cold packs can be heated in a microwave and applied to the sore area. It is thought that the heat penetrates into the body and dilates blood vessels which increases the flow of blood along with oxygen and healing nutrients to heal the injury and end the pain. Heat can also warm the skin receptors which makes them less likely to send pain signals to the brain. Heat can also help to stretch the muscles on the back and if these are tense, this will relax them and so stop the pain.
If the pain is associated with swelling and / or bruising, then heating is less effective than cooling. Cold packs such as our hot and cold packs can be colled down, put in a protective cover and placed on the skin. This reduces the swelling an inflammation and so reduces the amount of pain. Cooling also can numb or anaesthetise the skin which provides pain relief. If muscle spasms are a problem, then the cooling effect can disrupt the nerve messages which are inducing the spasms and this will provide relief.