Break out that bag of frozen peas (or an ice pack, if you want to get fancy) for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad. Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, an associate professor at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves' ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
Hi Patricia, Sorry to hear about your experience. The patient information leaflet for diclofenac gel inside each pack advises that users should avoid applying on large areas of skin, that an amount ranging in size from a 1 penny to a 2 pence piece will usually be sufficient, and not to use it if you are already taking NSAID tablets. High blood pressure is not listed as a possible side effect, as this was not detected in clinical trials. As you say, diclofenac tablets and other oral NSAIDs are now associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease which is why the gel is considered a better option. I have coverd this in a post about ibuprofen increasing blood pressure here. Research looking into the long-term tolerability of topical diclogenac gel in people with an elevated risk of NSAID-related side effects, such as existing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease, suggests that the gel appears to be safe to use to treat osteoarthritis, even in these high risk groups. Having said that, everyone is different, due to the genes they have inherited, and you may have experienced an unusual, idiosyncratic reaction to the small amounts absorbed via the skin. It’s good that you or your doctor were monitoring your blood pressure to detect this. I have a website dedicated to lowering a high blood pressure, which includes lots of complementary approaches, that you may find helpful. Are you able to share the name of the herbal cream which you have found works better? Best wishes, Sarah B

Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."

I’m not saying NSAIDs are useless. They have their place. If you’re recovering from surgery or a major injury, traditional over-the-counter pain relievers are good for controlling inflammation, swelling, and pain, but NSAIDs are far too powerful for over-the-counter, everyday use. Unlike a lot of natural pain relievers, NSAIDs also don’t address the cause of inflammation or pain; they just mask the symptoms.
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