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
1. Capsaicin. Capsaicin creams and gels are made from chili peppers. They cause a mild to moderate burning sensation thought to alter nerves' ability to interpret pain by lowering the presence of a neurotransmitter called Substance P. Brand names including Capzasin and Zostrix are marketed for arthritis, backache, and other joint and muscle pains. These creams aren't generally associated with any adverse side effects though some patients may feel the heat more intensely than others.
Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (often abbreviated to NSAIDs) are creams, gels, rubs, solutions or sprays that contain a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agent and are designed to be applied directly to the skin overlying a painful joint or area of bone. They are used to relieve pain and to treat symptoms of arthritis such as inflammation, swelling, and stiffness. Topical NSAIDs may also be used in the treatment of actinic keratosis (a precancerous patch of thick, scaly or crusted skin).
Long term and/or large oral doses of NSAIDs can be extremely dangerous, even lethal. They “nuke” your entire system with much more active ingredient than you really need, all of it absorbed through the digestive tract and distributed through your entire circulatory system. These drugs can and do cause complications at any dose, and are linked to heart attacks and strokes and ulcerations of the GI tract. For example, Diclofenac …
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
Topical diclofenac gel (Voltarol) is highly effective for treating muscle and joint aches and pains. In fact, a direct comparison of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory diclofenac gel with an oral equivalent did not show any difference in their ability to reduce pain and stiffness. Data from 34 studies, involving over 7,600 people, suggests that the topical NSAID, diclofenac, is the most effective form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller for applying to the skin to treat muscle and joint pain.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
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.
The main advantage of topical NSAIDs is the reduced exposure of the rest of the body to the product, which reduces the side effect profile. Given the toxicity of NSAIDs is related in part to the dose, it follows that topical treatments should have a better toxicity profile. Consequently, the cardiovascular risks of topical diclofenac, even in those with a high baseline risk of disease, should be negligible with the topical forms.
NSAIDs don’t just damage your gut lining. They affect your gut bacteria, too. A study of regular users found that different NSAIDs caused different changes in gut bacteria. Ibuprofen and arthritis drug celecoxib (Celebrex), for example, increased pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae, a family of bacteria that includes E. coli, Salmonella, and a number of lesser-known bacteria that contribute to eye, skin, respiratory, and urinary tract infections.