Click here to print this page

Planning Retirement Online

 

Icy welcome to new pain relief

February 2018

ice bath

Interesting news from researchers in the UK...evidently a short plunge in cold water can work as an effective treatment to combat serious pain.

Living with pain is never easy and strong painkillers can be addictive and their effectiveness can wear off with time. So any alternative is well worth looking at and researchers at Cambridge University together with scientists at the University of East Anglia are now pushing for more research into what is being termed cold water therapy.

This follows the experience of a 28 year old man who for medical reasons had had the nerves in his chest cut to help control the blood flow to his face. While it was a fairly minor keyhole procedure, there was slight damage to some nearby nerves and after the operation the man suffered serious pain.  Ten weeks later he was still in severe pain despite taking pain killers and seeing various experts.

As a keen triathlete and competitive swimmer, he decided to go for a quick swim in the sea to distract him from the pain. He jumped into the sea from a rocky outcrop at a place where he had swum before – the water was exceptionally cold. He said as he plunged in, his whole body tingled with the cold and then within a minute he couldn’t feel pain...or indeed much else.

But the surprising aspect was that since then, he has felt no pain whatsoever. The pain had gone before he got out of the water and has never returned.

BMJ Case Reports states that the results from the sharp plunge into cold water was an unexpected, immediate, complete and sustained remission of the persistent pain. Doctors believe that the sudden shock from the cold water may have disrupted the nervous system, stopping a cycle of pain.

In the past trials have been carried out on alternative therapy using fast changing temperatures to force tissues to adapt to sudden change. Using ice packs and then heating pads or dipping limbs into hot and then cold water is a technique that has been used by many athletes and today ice baths have been used by top athletes for various benefits. UK tennis star Andy Murray has reported that at Wimbledon he has two freezing cold dips a day, including an ice bath before he goes to sleep.

But an icy plunge to permanently stop severe pain has not until now been a key area of research and it is hoped more investigation will be carried out. The report did issue a word of caution, saying that without further evidence, it is unclear whether the exposure to forced cold water swimming was specifically the cause of the pain relief. The shock of the cold water might have induced a wave of sympathetic nervous system activity which altered pain perception. This could offer instant relief, but does not explain why the man’s pain disappeared completely over the long term.

The BMJ say that chronic pain affects between one third and one half of the population of the UK with figures likely to increase due to the ageing population. Any new treatments to alleviate constant pain will be welcomed by millions.


Back to LaterLife Interest Index


Bookmark This Share on Facebook Receive more like this

 

Latest Articles:

Health food of the month: Prawns


prawns

Prawns add flavour and health at any time of year, these easy to cook little crustaceans make a perfect addition to many recipes.

more

AXA Health:
Tips to delay dementia and boost your brain power

Older woman struggling to recall a memory

According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there are over 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with that figure set to rise to 2 million by 2051.

more

White wine might also have health benefits

Glasses of wine

There have been some interesting reports in recent media about the health benefits of white wine and how white as well as red can provide good levels of antioxidants and other benefits.

more

Gene therapy – The future of our health

Gene therapy

Gene therapy is hugely exciting. Whether it will fulfil its promise and in future years produce terrific treatments for many health problems we don’t know but at the moment, although still in its early stages, the results are very encouraging.

more

Back to LaterLife Health Section

Visit our Pre-retirement Courses section here on laterlife or our dedicated Retirement Courses site

Bookmark


Advertise on laterlife.com