Many readers assume that “skeptics” will always favour mainstream and pharmaceutical treatments like Voltaren, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, some skeptics are leading the charge against bad pharmaceutical industry science and practices (and a great example is Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients). Pharmacist Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy was certainly skeptical about topical NSAIDs like Voltaren when he first tackled the topic early in 2011.13 “When I recently noticed a topical NSAID appear for sale as an over-the-counter treatment for muscle aches and pains … I was confident it would make a good case study in bad science.”

Sleep disturbances are common among people with chronic back pain, and not getting enough quality sleep may actually worsen inflammation and pain. For a better night's sleep, invest in a good mattress and experiment with different sleeping positions. Adding an extra pillow under your body can help maintain the natural curve in your spine. If you’re a back sleeper, try putting the pillow under both knees; for stomach sleepers, try under your pelvis. If you sleep on your side, sleeping with a pillow between the knees may help.


You may already have tried exercise and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers you take by mouth. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Another option is to try one of the many OTC topical creams that can help relieve arthritis pain. Here’s the low-down on these products to help you decide which arthritis cream might be best for you.
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.
This was a very informative post. I hate taking pills so anything thing that can help with any pain that I’m experiencing that you can just add topical is the best in my opinion. It’s great that it’s also as good as oral pain killers. And also has fewer side effects which is also another great thing. I’ll have to tell my friend about this because she has bad knee pain, so this would help her out a lot.
Hi Brenda, The most effective painkilling gel is Voltarol which contains diclofenac, assuming your bad reaction to oral painkillers was not an allergy to NSAIDs. Another option to try is magnetic gloves, or a pain killing device such as Arc4Health, which can have quite miraculous painkilling effects. You should also ask your doctor to refer you to a pain clinic for specialist advice. I hope that helps. Best wishes, Sarah B

We included this cream because it is a popular product for those suffering from arthritis. After all, muscle creams aren't just about your muscles. You can apply this product to any part of the body, including the wrists, elbows, feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck, and shoulders. This makes it the best pain relief cream for joint pain caused by arthritis. And what's more, this cream is free of dyes, parabens, propylene glycol, and NSAIDs. Plus, it washes out of clothes easily.
Never use a topical product if you have open wounds, scratches, or broken skin to reduce risks. You don’t want to cover up these with Band-Aids. Never apply near your eyes or mucous membranes, including your private area. Be sure to follow the directions on the product. Using these products for too long can make you skin become sensitive and you might have an allergic reaction. If you use a patch and it starts to itch, burn, or your skin has a rash or is red, stop using it. You can use the product for a long time before your body becomes sensitive to one or more of the ingredients. If you have a reaction, see your healthcare provider at once. This can also happen with lotions, creams, sticks, roll-ons, and gels. Don’t keep adding more to your skin if the product doesn’t seem to work. More is not better.
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Back pain is one of the most common reasons why people visit a health care provider. The good news is that the pain often goes away on its own, and people usually recover in a week or two. Many people want to stay in bed when their back hurts. For many years, getting bed rest was the normal advice. But current studies recommend no bed rest at all and stress that staying in bed longer than 48 hours not only won’t help but it may, in fact, actually delay your recovery. Here’s why:
If you have an attack of lower-back pain that is severe, continuous and not improving, assessment and treatment by a health care professional who focuses on the back or other musculoskeletal problems may help. These practitioners may use both active and passive techniques to help you feel better. Examples of passive techniques that may be used to get you moving include:
While most people are only looking to relieve the immediate symptoms of the pain, this will only provide temporary relief.  Addressing the underlying mental/emotional, chemical and physical stressors that are causing the chronic inflammation and pain is the ultimate goal.  This process takes time and deep introspection along with trusted holistic health care providers.

The available science includes a 2011 study published in Arthritis Care & Research, which found that a 10-week tai chi program reduced pain and improved functioning in people with long-term low back pain symptoms. The study involved 160 adults with chronic low back pain, half of whom participated in 40-minute-long tai chi sessions 18 times over the 10-week period.


As a doctor I’ve tried, recommended and prescribed many pain-relieving creams and gels to treat painful joints, backache, sore muscles, strained tendons and sprained ligaments. Medical guidelines even recommend that doctors prescribe topical creams and gels to treat mild to moderate joint pain. The best pain relief creams and gels are often just as effective as oral painkillers, but with much less risk of side effects. When I experience muscle or joint pain, I prefer to use a pain relief cream myself.

MSM is a potent sulfur naturally found in plants, animals and humans that helps rebuild the connective tissue in your joints and is a powerful natural remedy for inflammation and pain. What’s more, MSM has the unique ability to improve cell permeability. This allows harmful toxins to flow out, while allowing health boosting nutrients to flow in to feed your joints, cartilage and connective tissue. It is used for hundreds of symptoms related to a myriad of health diseases and conditions, and is especially effective as a natural remedy for relieving inflammation for improved joint function, and pain associated with joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and tendonitis. One study published in the Journal of AntiAging Medicine found that MSM provides an 80 percent greater reduction in pain compared to the placebo.

Back pain can interrupt your day or interfere with your plans. In fact, there’s an 84 percent chance that you will develop low back pain in your lifetime. But back pain isn’t always something you can ignore or wait for it to resolve on its own. Thankfully, there are several ways to treat back pain at home. These remedies include everything from herbs to massages. Keep reading to see how you can ease your back pain.
What makes a joint “amenable”? Is it mellow and easy-going? No, just accessible: a pain-killing gel is useful only for joints that aren’t covered by a thick layer of muscle (like the shoulder). The medication gets diluted as it penetrates deeper into tissue, and a meaningful amount can only get into joints if the joint is just under the surface of the skin.
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.
Preliminary research suggests that hypnotherapy may be of some use in the treatment of low back pain. For instance, a pilot study published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis found that a four-session hypnosis program (combined with a psychological education program) significantly reduced pain intensity and led to improvements in mood among patients with chronic low back pain.

If you need stronger pain relief, talk to your doctor about a prescription topical NSAID. A prescription topical NSAID is stronger than OTC products. Topical NSAIDs also carry less risk of stomach upset, ulcers, or other problems than oral NSAIDs do. The only prescription topical NSAID currently available is called Voltaren (diclofenac). Talk to your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.
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.[44]
As part of your exercise routine, you may want to consider doing yoga regularly for lower back pain relief. One study of over 960 people with low back pain found that those who completed a 12-week yoga program experienced greater improvements in back function and reduced pain compared to controls who did not participate. (4) There’s even evidence that mindfulness meditation, often practiced in some form with yoga, can also help people deal with chronic back pain more effectively. (5)
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.)
A lot of people who read this are going to want to try it on their low back pain, neck pain, and/or other kinds of muscle pain. Will it work? The only honest answer is, “Who knows?” I have no clinical experience with this yet, and certainly it’s unstudied. It might be worth trying, in moderation, with the full awareness that there’s every possibility that it could be a waste of time and money.
“When I was pregnant two years ago with my daughter I had extreme pain in my right shoulder. It went on for months. They did cortisone shots, prescribed Loratab (Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen), and were ready to operate on a pregnant gal the pain was so severe. Eventually the cortisone shots worked and the pain went away. I am now pregnant again and at about 28 weeks the pain was back. This time the pain was worse. The joint hurt so bad I couldn't pull the covers over me in bed. I could only sleep on one side, and NOTHING worked. My chiropractor recommended Relief cream. I was skeptical that a cream could ease my pain when the medical community had nothing that worked. In a total act of desperation I had my husband rub it into the shoulder one night. I slept better than I had in weeks. He rubbed it in the next night and the pain was completely gone. Here I am now 34 weeks pregnant and the pain has been completely gone for 6 weeks. My husband has also used it on his back (after trying everything else under the sun) with similar results. Thank you for a truly amazing product. We have shared this info with our family and friends!” *
Named for its hook-like horns, cat’s claw, a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other places in South America, is known for containing an anti-inflammatory agent that aids in blocking the production of the hormone prostaglandin, which contributes to inflammation and pain within the body. Stick to the suggested doses to avoid diarrhea: 250 to 1,000 mg capsules one to three times daily.
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