Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 06:25 GMT 07:25 UK
Multiple sclerosis sufferers plagued by back pain have been given fresh
hope through new research.
Academics at the University of Ulster have embarked on a major study into ways of helping people with MS relieve low back pain.
The clinical trial will involve 90 people across Northern Ireland.
The £350,000 research has been part-funded by the MS Society through charity donations.
Team leader Andrea Lowe-Strong said it was the first study of its kind in the UK.
The study explores how TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) may help alleviate low back pain.
It follows earlier pilot studies which showed positive results from the use of TENS devices.
"This is just one strand of our wide-ranging MS research programme - but a highly important one," said Dr Lowe-Strong.
"No-one has looked at the potential of TENS devices for pain relief for people with MS. The devices we use have been specially adapted for people with MS, who may have reduced dexterity.
"The TENS units are attached to special lumbar support belts which makes them very easy to apply to the site of pain.
"We're trying to find ways of enabling people with MS to have more control over their lives - and control over pain is a vital part of that," said Dr Lowe-Strong.
"These techniques may help improve the quality of their lives and provide them with alternatives to pharmacological methods."
More than 3,000 people in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with MS.
The research team is interested to hear from anyone with MS who would
like to be part of the project.
© MMII, BBC