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Your Problems: Miriam Stoppard's advice column.

Can we plug in to back pain relief?


MY wife has considerable back pain due to a fall many years ago.

She was told to have complete bed rest but was bringing up our young children at the time so ignored the advice.

She is only in her sixties now but she's in constant pain - I feel for her so. Nothing seems to bring relief. I feel so guilty that she didn't get the treatment she deserved years ago. And I can't face the thought of her suffering for so many years in the future.

In a recent article we read about relieving pain through TENS. Could you tell us more about it and where to buy it? How does it work? Could we use it at home?

TENS is an abbreviation for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation and relieves pain by sending minute electrical impulses to nerve endings that lie just beneath the skin. It seems to work by blocking pain messages to the brain with counter-irritation.

A TENS unit sends the electrical impulses to electrodes that are placed on the skin or which can be surgically implanted.

The unit mustn't be used by anyone with a cardiac pacemaker because the impulses can interfere with the pacemaker's action.

TENS is beneficial in about 60 per cent of cases but pain relief in some people lasts only during stimulation. In others, pain relief persists after treatment.

TENS has been proven to be a very successful way of helping women in labour to relieve their own pain - they can use it themselves at the height of contraction, how and when they want, giving them a degree of control other types of pain relief don't give. Boots supply TENS units over the counter in three different sizes.

There's one that can be used before and after pregnancy which costs pounds 25 for a seven-week hire, a second unit with two pads which can be bought for pounds 50, and a third unit with four pads at pounds 60.

The unit is only stocked at larger Boots' branches, but any store will order it for you.

I'd also like your wife to call the Pain Concern Helpline which is run by nurses who are themselves sufferers of chronic pain and may well be able to offer specialised and individual help on the newest pain relief techniques, as well as advice on DSS benefits.

I say this just in case your wife is eligible for help under the NHS. The number to call is 01227 710402 (Mon, Wed and Fri, 10am-4pm).

I'm 36 and a novice at sex

I'M 36, male and a virgin. I've not had many girlfriends and they have all been platonic. As a result, I've no idea what to do in a passionate relationship and it's about to matter.

I've met a beautiful 30-year-old girl and we have become very close. Sex would be the obvious next step, but I can't imagine how to initiate things. Will lovemaking come naturally or should I seek advice? Any normal girl would expect any normal guy to have some experience at my age.

IF you have become emotionally close, you are already off to a head start. The thought of having sex for the first time can be frightening as well as exciting, but you mustn't see sex as an arena where you have to prove yourself. Worry about performance can make it a very mechanical experience and inhibit pleasure.

Technique has a place in lovemaking but it isn't everything as there is no fool-proof arousal formula which works on everyone. More important is a willingness to communicate our needs and to learn from each other.

You won't go far wrong if you remember that women get a lot of their pleasure from foreplay - kissing, cuddling and caressing. Like all things, sex gets better with practice and my leaflet How To Satisfy Your Woman should help.

I THOUGHT I had a great husband after remarrying - then I discovered that he was abusing my daughters.

We packed and left but I can't get my daughters to tell the police or anyone else. They say they're safe now and don't want to talk about it. But no one knows why I left and it's causing problems.

He's a respected man who goes to church on Sunday and plays the thoughtful, loving husband. Should I tell the truth?

WHILE your husband deserves to be named and shamed, it mustn't be at the price of hurting your daughters even more.

Of course, you're filled with rage not just because of what he's done to them but for wrecking your life too. The man you loved and trusted has become a stranger and the last thing you want is for him to get away with it.

He's a despicable man who not only violated their bodies, but damaged their minds as well.

It may take a long time for the emotional scars to heal. They feel safe from harm and bringing him to justice is obviously a step too far at this stage.

Even though they've done nothing wrong, they may still feel guilty about the experience and sad about upsetting you.

You have to allow them to handle their recovery in their own way. However, you also need support and if you ring Parentline on 0808-800 2222 you'll be able to talk in confidence about your feelings.

FOUR years ago I had an operation on my prostate gland and since then I haven't been able to get an erection.

As a younger man, I always had a very good sexual relationship with my partner and I still get the urge to have sex with her. But nothing works.

I'm 75 now and I've been to my doctor to ask for Viagra but he refused to discuss the matter. Does this mean he thinks I'm too old to bother with or is there something about a prostate operation that means I can't take Viagra?

I'M sorry your GP has given you the brush off because the very least you deserve is an explanation. For Viagra to work, the penis should have adequately healthy nerves and arteries. Where pelvic nerves or pelvic arteries have been damaged by an accident or by surgery, such as a prostate operation, Viagra may not be the answer. In fact, where there's damage the success rate is only between 40 and 50 per cent.

Personally, I think he's wrong to write you off and you should ask for a referral to an impotence specialist for assessment and, hopefully, a more objective opinion. You may not get the Viagra but there are other remedies which could be suitable for you, like implants.

These range from relatively simple, rigid supports to sophisticated pumps which can inflate a tube in the penis to make it erect. Read about a full range of solutions in my Impotence leaflet.


I'M 15 and I've been staring at this boy in my class who I really like for months now. He's been staring back and I can't explain what it's like. It's just magical.

I'm sure he likes me. He pays me compliments and the other day he put his arm around me and said he fancied me. But when I told my friend, she said I should watch out and that he was just playing games. Do you think she's jealous?

JOIN the club. Crushes are a natural part of awakening sexual awareness. Lots of teenagers have crushes and they're no bad thing because usually they're a safe way of experimenting with romantic and sexual feelings.

There are many ways of relaying messages through gestures and movements, and it looks like you two are becoming quite adept at keeping each other interested from a distance.

The trouble is that the chase can often be much more exciting than the catch. You've built him up in your imagination but there must be a risk he may not live up to your expectations.

By admitting he fancies you, he's signalled he's looking for a response. Unless he's got a really cruel streak, I don't agree with your friend that he's playing games. Why not make his day and ask him out assuming, of course, you feel ready to take on the responsibility of putting the theory into practice.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Stoppard, Miriam
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 1, 1999
Previous Article:Dear Jo: Readers' Letters.

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