The human body’s natural response to injury results in inflammation-induced pain, swelling, and erythema. In order to reduce pain, anti-inflammatory agents such as NSAIDs act on the multiple inflammatory pathways, which, although often very effective, can have undesirable side effects such as gastric ulceration and, infrequently, myocardial infarction and stroke.
The most commonly used drugs to treat chronic pain conditions include opioids (morphine), nonsteroids (salicylates such as aspirin and ibuprofen), antidepressants, antiepileptics and anti-nerve growth factor inhibitors. All of these drugs have awful side effects and addictive tendencies. In fact, prescription and over the counter pain medications are the fastest growing drug addiction in North America (1).
"Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt ($5; target.com) is a must-have for my sore muscles. Aside from the fact that baths are relaxing and stress relievers, adding Epsom salt helps your body absorb and replenish magnesium levels that are depleted when you're stressed. Weekly Epsom salt baths are huge for my overall well-being!" —Anna Victoria, creator of the Fit Body Guides (Next, check out the sweat-proof makeup trainers can't live without.)
In contrast, the guidelines of the American Pain Society and American College of Rheumatology have in the past recommended topical methyl salicylate and topical capsaicin, but not topical NSAIDs. This reflects the fact that the American guidelines were written several years before the first topical NSAID was approved for use in the United States. Neither salicylates nor capsaicin have shown significant efficacy in the treatment of OA.
Rutin is a flavonoid composed of the flavonol quercetin and the disaccharide rutinose. Rutin is found naturally in a variety of plants, and dietary sources include black tea and apple peels. Rutin’s natural anti-inflammatory potential is attributed mainly to its powerful antioxidant activity. Rutin also helps maintain the levels of reduced glutathione, which is a powerful biological antioxidant. The combination of these activities helps to minimize the cellular damage and resulting inflammation caused by the various oxidative processes.
Many arthritis creams have a telling medicinal smell, but you won’t get that from this Blue Emu cream. Like other arthritis creams on the market, it contains glucosamine and MSM. What stands out about this one, however, is that it contains emu oil (thus the name), which promises to penetrate deeply into the skin and provide soothing relief to joints and muscles. Thousands of customers say it delivers on those promises too.
You probably wonder what are in the topical products, right? Menthol is cooling, capsaicin from chili pepper makes your skin feel warm. Methyl salicylate, from the oil of wintergreen, also gives you a feeling of warmth or heat. Eucalyptus is also cooling. These ingredients are known as counter-irritants causing the nerves to have a less intense sensation where blood circulation might increase at the area as the theory goes. We just do not know the exact method for working.
"I don't use topical pain relievers often, but when I do I use a product called Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). It's a menthol-based gel that soothes local aches and pains in much the same way that ice therapy works but with less skin irritation, and the ability to be mobile once it's applied. It's also the product physical therapists and massage therapists choose." — Yusuf Jeffers, Tone House coach
The only side effect most of these products have is odor. Some of them were reviewed as being neutral to actually smelling good, while others were reported to have quite a strong smell you might not like. A lot of this has to do with the nature of the ingredients in pain relieving treatments. Mentholated ingredients give natural relief, but they do tend to have a strong odor that accompanies them.
There is a large amount of natural products on the market with anti-inflammatory properties which contain arnica, such as sports massage creams combining arnica and other natural plant extracts (devil’s claw, calendula, St John’s wort and peppermint oil, among others, as well as PHYSIORELAX FORTE PLUS cream) for symptomatic relief of joint and muscle pain. However, we must be well informed about the quality and origin of the extracts used in any creams, gels and ointments purchased at pharmacies, herbal shops and specialised phytotherapy shops, so that we use the best quality product possible.
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
Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice, Limnanthes alba (meadow foam) seed oil, mentha arvensis (menthol), capsicum (capsicum annuum) oleoresin, cinnamomum camphora (white camphor) essential oil, ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) essential oil, piper nigrum (black pepper) essential oil, anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile) flower essential oil, chamomilla recutita (German chamomile) flower essential oil, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) leaf essential oil, cymbopogon winterianus (citronella) essential oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf essential oil, helichrysum italicum (helichrysum) essential oil, zingiber officinale (ginger) root essential oil, citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit) essential oil, juniper communis (juniper) berry essential oil, cymbopogon flexuous (lemongrass) essential oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) essential oil, pinus sylvestris (pine) needle essential oil, ravensara aromatica (ravensara) essential oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf essential oil, mentha spicata (spearmint) essential oil, origanum vulgare (wild oregano) essential oil, glycerin, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), water, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, carbomertriethanolamine (TEA), and tetrasodium (EDTA)
Reduce the inflammation that's contributing to your pain. It may seem obvious but it bears repeating; inflammation is a contributor to most forms of chronic pain, and reducing the inflammation will help reduce your pain. A simple way to address inflammation is to regularly apply a cold pack or ice to the local area of pain. Ice also helps by acting as a local anesthetic and by slowing nerve impulses, which in turn can interrupts the pain signals generated in the affected area.
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.
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
The effect of NSAIDs on the GI tract is actually indirect: it’s not because the medicine comes into direct contact with the walls of the GI tract, but because the medication, once it is in the bloodstream, affects the behaviour of cells in the lining of the gut. So it’s actually just a matter of dosage. If you were to smear a diclofenac gel all over your body, you would absorb enough of it that it would be a “gut burner” too! BACK TO TEXT
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications are one of the most commonly used types of medications for musculoskeletal conditions. NSAIDs can be effective for a wide variety of orthopedic conditions from arthritis, tendinitis, or other inflammatory conditions. Determining the best NSAID for your condition may depend on a number of different factors, and what works well for one individual may not be the best medication for another. There are possible side effects of different NSAID medications the patient should be aware of, and you should discuss with your physician if taking these medications for more than a short period of time.
That said, why not try it? It’s almost certainly safer than popping ibuprofen! Although not tested and approved for reckless experimentation on any pain problem, obviously the entire point of Voltaren® Gel is to limit exposure to the active ingredient. So you might choose to experiment — taking full responsibility for your actions, of course, and not suing me if something goes horribly wrong, because of course I’m not actually recommending it. 😉 Seriously: just run it by your doctor.
Soft tissue therapies help treat the underlying causes of back pain, such as poor posture, muscular compensations, and weakness through manipulative, hands-on adjustments. These natural therapies can help “turn on” muscles that have been “turned off” due to past injuries and therefore eliminate added stress on painful parts of the back or legs. I recommend finding a practitioner who offers one of the following:
The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) medication is still the mainstay of most classically taught clinicians for joint and spine related inflammatory pain, despite their commonly known side effects [Table 1]. NSAID mechanisms are primarily through interaction with proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1a, IL-1b, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α). Increased concentrations of TNF-α are believed to cause the cardinal signs of inflammation to occur.