The tenacious nature of chronic low back pain (LBP) makes it one of the most commonly reported medical complaints of adults over 40. While in many cases health care providers can identify the specific root cause of LBP and prescribe effective treatment, a vast majority of LBP complaints are non-specific in nature, meaning they cannot be linked to an identifiable source.
Non-specific LBP is most commonly treated with analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), and muscle relaxants. However, such treatments are only effective for as long as they are in use, and long-term use of any of these treatments can eventually lead to other health problems.
In a 2012 Turkish study, researchers wanted to know if wearing woolen underwear would help to diminish symptoms of LBP. They reasoned that garments knitted from wool provide more warmth than synthetic or plant-based materials, effectively trapping warmth within knit spaces. They noted that some sufferers of chronic non-specific low back pain report increased discomfort when exposed to cold or during temperature change, particularly at night.
Participants were 48 patients with chronic non-specific low back pain who volunteered for the study. There was no statistically significant difference between participant demographic and baseline characteristics such as age, gender, education, employment status, disease duration body weight and pain levels.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups of 24 participants each. The treatment group received woolen underwear, made of 75% merino wool and 25% acrylic, while the control group received a placebo of cotton underwear in similar colors. A daily check-list was given to each participant to record all medications taken during the study period, including analgesics, NSAIDs and muscle relaxants.
A pre-test was conducted for all participants using a questionnaire form, pain scale assessment, the Oswestry Disability Index (a questionnaire assessing pain and mobility levels) and the Schober test (a physical test assessing low back range of motion). The same battery of assessments was done at the end of two months, at the conclusion of the study.
After two months, the treatment group who wore the woolen underwear showed significant reductions in pain intensity and disability, and significant improvements in lower back flexibility. Moreover, the control group recorded taking more analgesics, NSAIDs and muscle relaxants over the course of the study than the treatment group.
Researchers speculated that the added warmth provided by the woolen underwear was responsible for reduced muscle tension and stiffness, which in turn reduced pain and disability. They suggest that woolen underwear may be a cost-efficient and effective treatment for patients complaining of chronic non-specific LBP.
The health care professionals at NYDNRehab in NYC are experts at diagnosing and treating chronic LBP. They possess the skills, technology and resources to thoroughly assess and identify specific causes of LBP. Don’t live with the misery and disability of chronic LBP. Schedule an appointment with the back pain specialists at NYDNRehab today, and get to the bottom of your LBP. And meanwhile, wear your woolies!