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

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 mild to moderate back injury.

SportsMed electrotherapy can be used everyday - outside 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 rehabilitation.

  • RELIEVE mode:
    • Pain relief (modulated low and high frequency TENS; continuous, comfortable intensity)
    • Early stage injury treatment (modulated low to medium frequency ECS; continuous, low intensity)
  • RECOVERY mode - injury healing
    • Later stage injury treatment (modulated low to medium frequency EMS and ECS; surging, medium intensity)
  • EXERCISE mode - muscle strengthening
    • Rehabilitation stage (high frequency EMS; surging, medium to high intensity)

Pad placement - back injury

Lower back pain TENS electrode placement
TENS for thoracic spine pain and injury
TENS for treatment of mid back injury
TENS back garment for pain and rehabilitation

SportsMed Therapy Guide

Purpose ModeIntensity TimeHow often
Pain relief RELIEVELow to medium Minimum 60 minutesOn demand
Muscle soreness RELIEVELow Several hoursDaily for 1 or 2 days
Scar tissue RELIEVELow Several hoursDaily as needed
Soft tissue healing RECOVERMedium 10 to 20 minutes3 times per day
Circulation RELIEVE or RECOVERLow 60 minutesas often as needed
Rehabilitation EXERCISEMedium 5 to 15 minutes3 times per day
Rehabilitation EXERCISEMedium to high 10 to 20 minutes3 times per day
On RELIEVE mode – muscles should not contract or twitch
On RECOVER mode – muscles should contract, mildly
On EXERCISE mode – muscles should contract, mildly or strongly – as required
TENS and EMS machine for back pain and injury

Injury page links

SportsMed TENS, ECS and EMS
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