When people experience a minor headache, muscle tension or other pain, they readily reach for over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen—the most commonly used drugs in the U.S. But regular use of these drugs can lead to long-term side effects like intestinal damage, liver failure and more, recent research reveals. Before popping the pills, consider these alternative remedies for natural pain relief.
Rolfing not only relieves physical muscle pain rooted in your fascia, but also improves your emotional well-being and energy. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve your game or someone suffering with TMJ pain, chronic back pain or spine pain, rolfing is something worth exploring. It’s a potent natural painkiller that impacts your neuromuscular system in a positive, pill-free way.
Limited bed rest. Once the mainstay of treatment for back pain, bed rest has fallen out of favor. Doctors now know it's better to keep moving, so that your muscles don't become stiff. Bed rest can still be useful relief from low back pain, particularly if your pain is so severe that it hurts to sit or stand. But try to limit it to a few hours at a time and for no more than one or two days.
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.
Biofeedback. You can learn to control your body’s responses to pain triggers. In biofeedback, through sensors connected to your body, a machine will show how thoughts and actions can affect your autonomic nervous system. This controls the heart, lungs, stomach and intestines, as well as the release of stress hormones. Learning how to control breathing and heart rate will allow you to control other physical reactions, such as pain.
Rubbing the pain relief cream on the affected area reduces the pain quickly. When you rubbing the cream or gel on the affected area then it warms the spot and increases the blood flow. The bodily action of massaging or rubbing allows the active ingredients to absorb into the affected skin smoothly. So you feel relaxed from severe pain such as back pain or knee pain.
If you’re someone who experiences muscle and joint pain from time to time (or on a regular basis), you’ve probably tried quite a few options for pain relief. And you’re probably already using external pain relievers—the kind you apply directly to your skin for fast relief from sore muscles and joints. But have you thought of adding an external pain relief cream to the mix?
A muscle pain relief cream will alleviate aches and pains associated with sore muscles, injuries, inflammation, and more! The best muscle pain relief cream is the one that suits your unique needs. Some offer heating or cooling sensations, while others are odorless or made with natural oils to produce pleasant scents. A pain relief cream can also reduce arthritis discomfort! With plenty of creams to choose from, we've rounded up the top creams. You're sure to find the one that meets your needs in this list.
For arthritis relief, it is important to have proteolytic activity on the systemic level. Known as protease, this category of enzymes acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of proteins into peptides or amino acids. This helps control both systemic inflammation and inflammation resulting from soft tissue injuries, like those associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Proteolytic enzymes also provide essential antioxidant and cardiovascular support. I will discuss two of the more potent ones here:
Also referred to as "hypnosis," hypnotherapy is a mind-body technique that involves entering a trance-like state of deep relaxation and concentration. When undergoing hypnotherapy, patients are thought to be more open to suggestion. As such, hypnotherapy is often used to effect change in behaviors thought to contribute to health problems (including chronic pain).
Laugh more often. One study showed that social laughter actually increases pain tolerance.5 Laughing along with others was shown to have the highest positive impact. Laughter has many positive effects, including increasing circulation and oxygen, and raising your body's level of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers). There is a whole movement called "laughter yoga"—which helps people enjoy the many benefits of laughter without having to need a reason to laugh—it just focuses on laughing for its own sake.
“I cannot even tell you how AMAZING this stuff is. I never do reviews, but this product most certainly deserves one. I have dealt with MANY injuries, I was in a bad car wreck, and I have had more surgeries than I could count on both hands. My main area of pain is my upper back and neck. I have bulging disks, cervical stenosis, degenerative disk disease that causes horrible spasms, swelling, tension, and PAIN. I also have cancer and several other issues that put my pain level over the top every day. I have seen neurosurgeons, all of whom say they will eventually need to operate. I have done absolutely every possible treatment other than a spinal fusion, have had probably 10 injections, and they even went and tried to burn the nerve endings throughout my entire cervical spine, yet nothing worked. I can't even begin to tell you the medications the doctors have tried, each of which help some, but you get to a point where you don't want to constantly take medications forever. One day I was at my spine doctor's office and they had a bottle of Relief pain cream on the counter. While I was waiting there I asked the staff some questions about Relief and thought "yea, yea, but can I try it?" So, I put some on, and thought, "HOLY COW! What is this! Whatever this is, it's amazing!" Then and there I literally bought the rest of the supply they had on-hand because I couldn't believe how much it helped relieve my pains and aches. That night, I couldn't sleep because I was in so much pain, and none of my medications were helping. I felt like I was dying. So again, I put on some Relief cream and it helped soooo much. Since that day I never, ever, go anywhere without Relief! I will use this pain cream forever and continue to tell everyone I know about it because it truly works! I'm so glad I randomly tried this stuff at the doctor's office because I finally found something that gives true RELIEF!!” *
People who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not use these medications. These events may happen without warning and may cause death. This risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time. Do not use an NSAID such as topical diclofenac if you have recently had a heart attack, unless directed to do so by your doctor.Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke; if you smoke; and if you have or have ever had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Get emergency medical help right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness in one part or side of your body, or slurred speech.
Can stomach problems cause lower back pain? The back is a sensitive part of the body, which has many nerves and organs nearby. This means that issues such as digestive conditions can occur at the same time as back pain. Back pain and bloating are common symptoms of injury, pregnancy, or gastrointestinal problems. Treatment depends on the cause. Learn more here. Read now
“I recently started using Relief in my practice after being introduced to the product by a friend. My patients tell me they prefer Relief to the other analgesic gel because Relief works better, lasts longer, and there is no stickiness or unpleasant scent after using the cream. In addition to the patient response, I use Relief in my office because Corganics provides a high quality product with great customer service. Relief has been a great addition to my practice.” *
The Boswellia species are trees located in India, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Arabian Peninsula, and they produce a gum resin called olibanum, better known in the western world as frankincense. This resin possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and analgesic properties. Boswellia can inhibit the leukotriene biosynthesis in neutrophilic granulocytes by inhibiting 5-LOX, thus affecting various inflammatory diseases that are perpetuated by leukotrienes. Clinically, the substance is used in the treatment of degenerative and inflammatory joint disorders. It reduces the total white blood cell count in joint fluid, and it also inhibits leukocyte elastase, which is released in rheumatoid arthritis. In one recent study, a statistically significant improvement in arthritis of the knee was shown after 8 weeks of treatment with 333 mg B. serrata extract taken three times a day. The treatment improved function, but radiographically there was no change in the affected joints.
I use my Rogue Fitness Supernova ($40; roguefitness.com) for self-myofascial release (SMR). By applying pressure directly to sore muscles with my supernova, I am able to roll out knots (or adhesions) on the muscle. This allows the body to bring blood flow to troubled areas by transporting nutrients and oxygen to the muscles for faster repair." — Troy Brooks, YG Studios and founder TB Elite Fitness
However, it probably does not work well for deeper tissues in most cases. For instance, there’s evidence that it doesn’t work at all for the muscle soreness that follows unfamiliar exercise intensity,7 probably because it can’t be absorbed far enough into thick muscle tissue — but oral NSAIDs do have a modest effect on that kind of pain89 (one of the only things that does).
Ginger is in the same family of anti-inflammatory spices as turmeric. While they share similar benefits, ginger is well known for its ability to relieve nausea associated with pregnancy and cancer treatments. It can also relieve pain in the same category as NSAIDs, making it another effective alternative to over-the-counter medications that have unpleasant side effects. (18)
Celebrex, Vioxx, and Bextra quickly became the mainstay for the treatment of chronic pain conditions related to inflammation. Within a few years, an estimated 15–20 million people in the US were using selective COX-2–inhibiting NSAIDs on a long-term basis. These drugs became the most commonly used pharmaceutical agent with more than 70 million NSAID prescriptions written each year and 30 billion over-the-counter NSAID tablets sold annually. It was estimated that 5–10% of the adult population used NSAIDs, and among the elderly (a group at higher risk of nonselective NSAID-induced gastrointestinal complications), the use of these drugs was as high as 15%. The general acceptance of these drugs was due to the perceived lack of serious gastrointestinal side effects that had been associated with the nonselective class of NSAIDs.[26,119]
I have just read here that diclofenac gel is one of the best anti- inflam gels. What it does not say is that if you need to use it on more than one area of the body as I do, and only once a day before bedtime, that after the relatively short time of 6-8 weeks it can raise the B/P significantly in people like me for instance who have never had hypertension!
The usual dosage of standardized turmeric powder is 400–600 mg taken three times per day. Side effects are few, but with extended use, this agent can cause stomach upset, and in extreme cases gastric ulcers may occur at very high doses. Caution should be used if the patient is taking anticoagulant medications or high doses of nonsteroidal drugs. Studies have shown that curcumin may be used in combination with lower doses of nonsteroidal medications.[7–9,11,21,40,87,111,121]
You never want to put a heating pad on top of the topical product after it’s on your skin. It can cause skin irritation and possible burns. If you apply a lotion or gel having methyl salicylate, do not start exercising. Your body can absorb too much of it from your increased blood circulation and that’s not good. Do not put on areas such as broken skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, or irritated area. Pregnant and breastfeed women should not use topical pain relievers without consulting their doctor. Babies should not use these products, nor young children.
I use Tiger Balm ($5; walmart.com). It's kind of the old-school stalwart in the game. With active ingredients of menthol and camphor it can provide some relief to muscle aches, and has been studied to improve blood flow, especially when used during massage." — Joe Holder, S10 Training and Nike running coach (Reboot Your Workout Routine with Holder's moves that tap into every muscle.)
How it works: A misaligned spine can cause muscle tension (read: pain). Both physical therapy and chiropractic treatment improve spinal alignment. Physical therapists strategically stretch and strengthen the muscles that help hold the spine in place. Chiropractors manipulate the spine to relieve areas of tension on the muscles. Consult your primary-care doctor for a referral.
Research shows that certain forms of magnesium can be effective for pain relief and muscle relaxation, as well as nerve pain. Many people in our society are magnesium deficient, so it may be a good idea to supplement. Magnesium glycinate is known to be a highly bioavailable form. Magnesium citrate can be used by those who tend toward constipation, as it has an additional effect of loosening the bowels.
When used together, menthol and methly salicylate create vasodilation (opening of the blood vessels) close to the surface of the skin. Increased blood flow to the area of application is said to have pain-killing on the nerve receptors in the treated area. When combined, these two ingredients also work together to form a class of treatment called counterirritants. Counterirritants work by tricking the body into feeling sensations other than pain. The menthol and methyl salicylate in muscle creams create conflicting feelings of warmth and cold. When the nervous system sends both of these sensations, at the same time, they compete with and ultimately block pain signals from travelling to the brain. Together these ingredients, when delivered in muscle creams or sports balms, work to create a powerful 1-2 punch, killing pain and providing relief to aching muscles and joints.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are such effective pain killers that ibuprofen gel was originally only available on prescription. They are now widely available for self purchase and much better for your health than taking the same non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers by mouth. NSAID pain relieving gels do not cause the same level of side effects as the oral versions, such as indigestion and heartburn. You do need to follow the in-pack instructions, however, and take care not to apply too much. In some cases, overuse of ibuprofen gel can increase your blood pressure.
Capsaicin cream, also called capsicum cream, is available in drug stores, health food stores, and online. A typical dosage is 0.025% capsaicin cream applied four times a day. The most common side effect is a stinging or burning sensation in the area. If possible, wear disposable gloves (available at drugstores) before applying the cream. Be careful not to touch the eye area or open skin. A tube or jar of capsaicin cream typically costs between $8 and $25.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse. In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.