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Pregnancy & Back Pain – new research shows women suffer in ignorance of correct relief

Annie Payne - Saturday 26.10.13, 15:18pm

Back pain affects three out of four pregnant women[i] yet many are unaware of the risks of taking certain oral painkillers according to new research.[ii]

One in four do not fully understand the dangers of some painkillers during pregnancy and fewer than half (48%) realize the choice of pill is vitally important and that taking the wrong painkiller could harm their unborn baby. One in ten (13%) would pop a pill to relieve muscle or joint pain which could put their health, or that of their baby’s, at risk.

The study of 1000 new mothers and mums-to-be commissioned by the pain relief experts at Deep Freeze  showed that most pregnant women feel the strain, in their backs, swollen ankles and aching joints:

  • One in five women (21%) suffers daily discomfort.
  • Three in four (75%) suffer lower back pain
  • One in five (21%) get aches higher up the spine
  • For almost a third (28%) the joint and muscle pain is so debilitating that it leaves them unable to enjoy what should be one of the most wonderful times of their life.

For one in four women (25%) the pain restricts their ability to get about and a similar number (24%) avoid long journeys. Almost one in five (17%) say it has stopped them socializing.

Yet turning to painkillers can be potentially dangerous. Paracetamol is the only painkiller safe to take during pregnancy, and even then experts advise taking the minimum dose for the shortest time possible.[iii]

Taking ibuprofen during the first trimester (weeks one to 13) increases the risk of miscarriage or the chance of having a baby with a heart defect or other serious abnormality, while in the third trimester (weeks 28 to 40) ibuprofen can delay labour or increase blood pressure in the baby’s lungs.[iv] But one in ten (10%) new mums and mums-to-be would still take it to ease back pain.

And three per cent would opt for aspirin although it has been linked to infant jaundice and heart problems when mums take it in the last 13 weeks of pregnancy and because it thins the blood there is also a danger of heavy bleeding in labour. [v]

But there is no need to grin and bear the aches and pains of pregnancy as just over half of women (55%) do or to accept is as inevitable (47%).   Although many oral painkillers should not be taken during pregnancy, the cryotherapy (cold cooling pain relief therapy) provided by the Deep Freeze range provides a safe, simple-to-use solution.

Cold is particularly useful for muscular pain as it reduces swelling and inflammation. This can further damp-down discomfort as inflammation is known to stimulate nerve endings which can pump up the volume on pain. Like an ice pack, but more convenient and easy to use, Deep Freeze works by lowering the temperature of the skin and underlying tissue which helps numb nerve endings and reduces both pain and swelling.[vi]

“The extra weight of having a baby on board, changes to posture and your centre of gravity and the muscle-relaxing effect of pregnancy hormones can all individually lead to discomfort. Put them together, and add a demanding toddler or job, and it’s no wonder 75% of women suffer lower-back pain during pregnancy,” says  mum-of-two Dr Catherine Hood, an associate specialist at St George’s Hospital, London, with a special interest in women’s health.

“A safe and convenient alternative to helping ease back or joint discomfort associated with being a mum-to-be is the Deep Freeze Cold Patch which delivers fast, effective relief at the point of pain.  There is no danger to either mother or child. Simple and safe options also include the Deep Freeze Cold Spray and Deep Freeze Cold Patch, which can also help counter swollen ankles, another common problems in pregnancy.”

The Deep Freeze range of cold analgesia products are simple to carry around and don’t require cooling before use.

Deep Freeze Cold Patch offers initial, effective pain relief and then continues to provide consistent, long-lasting analgesia to the site of the pain. It contains menthol, aloe vera and water in a hydrogel layer which slowly evaporates to produce prolonged cooling relief for up to three hours. The slim patch stays in place simply and easily and can be worn under clothing. Deep Freeze Cold Patch also provides effective relief from muscular aches and pains and is particularly useful for swollen ankles, a common pregnancy problem.  RRP is £1.55 for a single patch and £5.10 for a pack of four patches.

Other products in the Deep Freeze range include:

Deep Freeze Cold Spray provides a convenient way to deliver an instant burst of cooling relief, just like ice, to hard-to-reach spots such as the back, shoulders, feet and ankles. You don’t need to rub it in, so it is convenient to apply.  It helps reduce inflammation and swelling by  vasoconstriction and provides pain relief by crowding out the pain signals with sensations of cold. RRP of Deep Freeze Cold Spray is £3.47.

Deep Freeze Cold Gel uses menthol and water to cool and act as a counter-irritant and reducing inflammation and swelling in the same way as the cold spray. It provides effective relief from muscular aches and pains and is particularly useful for swollen ankles, a common pregnancy problem.

[i] One Poll March, 2013

[ii] as before

[iii] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2397.aspx?CategoryID=54&SubCategoryID=129

[iv] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2398.aspx?CategoryID=54

[v] http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/FemaleSexualHealthSelfCare/~/media/SATFiles/MedicinesForPainFactSheets/Aspirin.ashx

[vi] From Deep Freeze website Knight K, Brucker JB, Stoneman PD, Rubley MD. Muscle injury management with cryotherapy. Athletic Therapy Today 2000; 5(4): 26-30.

Curl WW, Smith BP, Marr A, Rosencrance E, Holden M, Smith TL. The effect of contusion and cryotherapy on skeletal muscle microcirculation. J Sports Med Phys Fitness 1997; 37(4): 279-86.

Bleakley C, McDonough S, MacAuley D. The use of ice on the treatment of acute soft-tissue injury: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Am J Sports Med 2004;32(1): 251-261.

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