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.
While there are mixed answers on how many servings of leafy greens one should eat each day for preventive effects, an overall eight to ten servings of vegetables and fruits daily is recommended for the best results. Of those, perhaps two to three servings of vegetables should be leafy greens. Leafy greens are rich in quercetin, a type of flavonoid that is responsible for broad anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, and essential minerals like magnesium. (15)

For those amenable joints, though, Voltaren® Gel delivers a good dose of medication directly to the joint, while sparing the gastrointestinal tract from the harshness of NSAIDs — which are actually known as “gut burners,” and many people just can’t stomach ibuprofen. A gel almost completely eliminates the risks associated with digesting the stuff.4


Diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren, also available as a generic). When used for osteoarthritis pain of the hands, elbows or wrists, apply 2 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 8 grams per day). When used on knees, ankles, or feet, apply 4 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 16 grams per day).  However, the total amount used on your body should not exceed 32 grams per day. A dosing card comes with the gel so you can measure the correct amount.
Over the past two decades, evidence has emerged to demonstrate that topical versions of NSAIDs are well absorbed through the skin and reach therapeutic levels in synovial fluid, muscle, and fascia. … For chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, the data are of fair quality and are persuasive. On balance, there’s good evidence to show that topical NSAIDs are clinically- and cost-effective for short term (< 4 weeks) use, especially when pain is localized.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications are fairly safe and somewhat effective in moderation and work in different ways, so do experiment cautiously. There are four kinds: acetaminophen/paracetamol (Tylenol, Panadol), plus three non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs): aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Don’t take any of them chronically — risks go up over time, and they can even backfire and cause nasty rebound headaches. They are all probably equally effective for acute injuries (Hung), but benefits vary with people and issues (chronic pain, headache, arthritis, etc). Acetaminophen is good for both fever and pain, and is one of the safest of all drugs at recommended dosages, but it may not work well for musculoskeletal pain (at all?) and overdose can badly hurt livers. The NSAIDs all reduce inflammation as well as pain and fever, but at any dose they can cause heart attacks and strokes and they are “gut burners” (they irritate the GI tract, even taken with food). Aspirin may be best for joint and muscle pain, but it’s the most gut-burning of them all. Voltaren® Gel Review is an ointment NSAID, effective for superficial pain and safer (Derry). Athletes, puh-lease don’t take “Vitamin I” to prevent soreness — it doesn’t work!
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).
Research suggests that topical medications may be just as effective as oral ones. Many of them worked significantly better than placebo. These medications can come in the form of gels, creams, patches, and more. One study also saw decrease in pain when people applied lavender essential oil or ointments prepared with cayenne peppers with acupressure.
"I am a true believer in Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). My football coach introduced me to it years ago. It's a topical cooling pain reliever that works very similarly to ice but since it's a gel, I can apply it before teaching classes and training clients to keep function in my muscles and joints. In addition to relieving muscle pain or soreness, it can be used to help arthritis and other muscular and joint discomforts too. " —Mat Forzaglia, The Fhitting Room instructor
Gentle stretches, walking, and periodically standing up at your desk can help stabilize your spine and prevent muscle imbalances. And despite how hard it is to imagine doing Downward-Facing Dog with a bad back, yoga can work in your favor, too. A 2013 review of studies found strong evidence it can help beat lower back pain. Any type works; one to consider is the restorative viniyoga style.

When sudden changes occur in the weather or we overexert ourselves during physical activity, those of us who experience, or who already had, muscle and/or joint pain treat ourselves with the traditional prescriptions of conventional anti-inflammatories. There is a general tendency for us to take anti-inflammatories every time something hurts, as if they were water. Nevertheless, the damage caused to our bodies (liver, stomach, etc.) by anti-inflammatories is highly significant if these are abused. Symptomatic use of analgesics, such as paracetamol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is almost always the first treatment option, and ibuprofen is one of the most widely used anti-rheumatic drugs.


Achy back? You're not alone: back problems send more Americans to the doctor annually than nearly any other medical problem, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study. Whether you're recovering from misjudging a heavy load (we've all been there), dealing with a lingering injury, or have a chronic problem, you don't necessarily need to resort to popping tons of pain relievers. Talk to your doc about these 15 expert-approved natural back pain remedies, and find out if they are safe and appropriate for you.
Arnica is a natural anti-inflammatory, which is why you’ll find it in many pain relief gels and creams. It is a powerful natural medicine that comes from the perennial flower Arnica Montana. It that makes natural quick and easy pain relief possible, and it is also one of the biggest reasons why most pain relief gels and creams that use Arnica are available over the counter without a prescription or a doctor’s visit.
Although it’s been available in Europe for many years, it was only approved for use in the United States in 2007. Also, other topical treatments (salicylates and capsaicin) have shown little potential in the past. And Arnica montana creams (Traumeel, for example) are extremely popular, but it’s unlikely that even full-strength arnica is medically potent, let alone when it is diluted down to traces.3
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.
Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. "Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system. It takes a couple of days for this to occur," says David Kiefer, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
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