Within the cartilage around your joints is a chemical known as chondroitin. Chondroitin is naturally produced by the body. As you age, your natural supply starts to plummet. And a loss of chondroitin from cartilage is linked to a major cause of joint pain. Moreover, through wear and tear the joint cartilage breaks down, resulting in the condition of Osteoarthritis. We can’t regenerate cartilage on our own, but we can take a supplement called chondroitin sulfate which, studies show, can help slow down this degenerative process and help naturally reduce arthritic pain. Chondroitin sulfate is made from the cartilage of cows and other animals, and is often used in combination with other products including glucosamine and manganese.
Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.
Having a variety of solutions for pain relief is not only helpful, it’s strategic. Depending on which type of pain you’re experiencing, you want a personalized option. And having different solutions on hand helps you be prepared for whatever life throws at you. Try adding an external pain relief cream to the mix so you can relieve muscle and joint pain, then get back to doing what you love.
"I love Elemental Herbs All Good Herbal Freeze with Arnica ($20; allgoodproducts.com) because the combination of menthol and arnica is incredibly cooling. Also, it's all-natural and super easy to just spray onto my sore areas. I also like Arnica Muscle and Joint Gel by Naturopathica ($28; naturopathica.com), which is a gel. You can rub it in and it really targets the sore muscles and joints." —Holly Rilinger, master Flywheel instructor, creator of LIFTED
One of the most common reasons people develop low back pain is posture. Postural problems, including spinal abnormalities, along with muscular compensations or inactivity put added pressure on the back. Although people of all ages experience low back pain — including both athletes and those who are sedentary — middle-aged to older adults (especially when they’re overweight) are most likely to develop severe symptoms and therefore can benefit from lower back pain relief treatments like chiropractic care, soft tissue therapy and regular exercise.
To minimize your risks for a skin reaction, Cowling recommends doing a skin test before starting any topical pain reliever and washing your hands immediately after applying. Also don’t use topicals on any areas of the body where you have an open wound or broken skin, even a scratch. If you develop severe itching, redness, swelling or any other signs of a worsening skin reaction, contact your doctor.
When you have back pain, the best thing to do is rest until the pain subsides, right? Not necessarily. Too much rest can worsen certain types of back pain and decrease muscle strength — and strengthening and stretching the muscles may actually reduce or eliminate many types of back pain. Instead, start with gentle stretches and experiment to see how you can get moving without pain. Try going out for a slow, easy walk, and pick up the pace when you can. Remember, it's best to discuss your current fitness routine and any changes to it with your doctor to avoid aggravating your condition.
Alternate warm and cold. Try alternating soaks in warm and cold water, especially if you have swelling. Fill one sink with cold water (65 degrees Fahrenheit) and another with warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit). Leave your hands or feet in the warm water for five to 10 minutes, and then switch to cold for one minute. Return to the warm for three to four minutes, and then switch to cold for another minute. Repeat this four or five times.
Vitamins are essential to health. Every natural thing that you eat contains the vitamins needed for growth, repair, bone density, pH balance and hormone regulation. The problem is that many people don’t have access to organic whole foods, so vitamin supplementation is important. When suffering from inflammation, pain and arthritis, the following vitamins may help.
A key warning about using topical analgesics: don’t use them if you are also taking an oral NSAID—either prescription or over-the-counter—without telling your doctor. Taking too much of an NSAID can land you in the hospital with stomach bleeding or an ulcer flare-up. In fact, up to 100,000 Americans are hospitalized every year for NSAID-related gastrointestinal problems.
Have your friend or partner give you a relaxing massage for your tired sore muscles at the end of the day and you do the same for them. Aging, as many know, is not too kind giving us cellulite, sagging skin, wrinkles, and other things we despise. Muscles are not as taunt and tight as they were when we were younger. And, the young people can keep their youthful appearance with this cream.
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Voltaren® Gel (topical diclofenac) is a particularly safe and useful medicine. It’s an anti-inflammatory cream, so it can be applied only where you need it, instead of soaking your entire system with a medication, avoiding or dramatically reducing common side effects like indigestion, as well as some serious safety concerns associated with oral diclofenac. In the US, this drug is FDA-approved to treat osteoarthritis in “joints amenable to topical treatment, such as the knees and those of the hands,” but it probably also works for some other painful problems, such as some repetitive strain injuries and back pain. The evidence shows that it “provides clinically meaningful analgesia.” So this product actually works and gets a pass from skeptics and critics — a rare thing in the world of pain treatments!
Topical anti-inflammatories work in the same way but, instead of having an effect on all of the body, they only work on the area to which you have applied them. When they are applied they are taken into (absorbed into) your skin. They then move deeper into areas of the body where there is inflammation (for example, your muscle). They relieve pain and reduce swelling affecting joints and muscles when rubbed into the skin over the affected area. Using a topical preparation means that the total amount of anti-inflammatory in your body is very low. This in turn means that you are much less likely to have a side-effect to this medicine.
Curcumin is the bioactive compound in turmeric that gives the herb its healing properties. It’s one of the safest anti-inflammatories you can take, and is an effective natural pain reliever too — even for severe pain. In fact, curcumin matches or outperforms ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and other over-the-counter painkillers without any side effects.