A healthy spine

The spine is one of the most important parts of your body. Without it, you could not keep yourself upright or even stand up. It gives your body structure and support. It allows you to move about freely and to bend with flexibility. The spine is also designed to protect your spinal cord. The spinal cord is a column of nerves that connects your brain with the rest of your body. Without a spinal cord, you could not move any part of your body, and your organs could not function.

Strains and sprains

The majority of episodes of acute lower back pain are caused by damage to the muscles and/or ligaments in the low back. While a muscle strain doesn’t sound like a serious injury, the resulting lower back pain can be surprisingly severe. There are two common types of lower back strain:

  • A muscle strain happens when the muscle is over-stretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibres

  • A lumbar sprain happens when ligaments are stretched too far or torn. Ligaments are very tough, fibrous connecting tissues that connect bones together

Herniated disc

Herniated disc, bulging disc, slipped disc are interchangeable terms. The cause of the pain, typically a pinched nerve or painful disc, is what is important. A pinched nerve is when material is leaking out of the inside of the disc and pinching or irritating a nearby nerve. This type of pathology may lead to pain that radiates to other parts of the body, such as from the low back down the leg or from the neck down the arm.

Leg pain from a pinched sciatic nerve is described as sciatica. Other common causes of a pinched nerve may include spinal stenosis and bone spurs. Disc pain is when the disc space itself is the source of pain. The exact cause of pain generated by the disc is still controversial.


If the pressure on the sciatic nerve is caused by an acute injury rather than degeneration, then recovery is possible. However a misdiagnosis of hamstring strain could lead to a wrong treatment and prolonged injury.

SportsMed TENS therapy for Back injuries

After a diagnosis of sprain, strain, herniated disc or sciatica, your back injury management plan should include physical therapy treatment as often as possible.

SportsMed is the TENS, ECS and EMS machine we suggest to aid repair of these back injuries.

SportsMed electrotherapy can be used everyday - between visits to the clinic - for drug-free, on-demand pain relief. It is also designed and programmed to aid circulation, reduce inflammation, hasten healing and help with back muscle strengthening.

User guide

Please read the User Guide which comes with your TENS unit

Pad placement - Back injuries

Pain relief - place pads where they are comfortable and most effective for pain relief

Injury healing - pads are placed at the location of the injury

Muscle rehabilitation - the generic advice is to place one pad at the top of the muscle and the second pad one-third along the length of the muscle you wish to strengthen. You may need to consult your physiotherapist for specific guidance on which muscles to target.

upper thoracic spine

upper thoracic spine

mid back

mid back

lumbar spine

lumbar spine

If you have any questions please phone our office for further advice.