Diclofenac is also available as a 3% gel (Solaraze; generic) that is applied to the skin to treat actinic keratosis (flat, scaly growths on the skin caused by too much sun exposure). This monograph only gives information about diclofenac gel (Voltaren) and liquid (Pennsaid) for osteoarthritis. If you are using diclofenac gel (Solaraze, generic) for actinic keratosis, read the monograph entitled diclofenac topical (actinic keratosis).
The arnica Montana plant—also known as the mountain daisy—has been used for centuries to provide natural pain relief. For people who prefer a homeopathic approach to pain, the Boiron Arnica Cream is a great addition to your medicine cabinet. The non-sticky cream can help relieve muscle pain, stiffness, swelling, and bruise discoloration. It’s also a good option for sensitive skin thanks to the natural ingredients. It can even be applied to the face and is safe to use on children.
Most of us spend a good part of our day sitting down, which may be more harmful than you realize. You can minimize the impact by maintaining good posture. Correct posture in a chair means having all the bones in your spine lined up neatly, like a stack of perfectly aligned blocks. You should keep your feet flat on the floor and your computer keyboard within easy reach so you’re not leaning forward or slumping. This is part of proper office ergonomics.
ASU is a vegetable extract made from the oil of avocados and soybeans that is said to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It slows down the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body and thus the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. It has also been found to spur new cartilage cell growth. It is available in capsule form at a recommended 300 mg daily.
A type of enzyme extracted from pineapple stems, bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions associated with musculoskeletal tension (such as TMJ syndrome), as well as those suffering trauma-related inflammation. What's more, the enzyme may promote healing in muscles and connective tissues.
Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."
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.)
In addition to the other methods and strategies discussed throughout my book, I recommend taking natural remedies that reduce pain and inflammation, protect joint health and promote healing without side effects. Below I offer an overview of 20 different supplements formulas or ingredients often found within such formulations. Read each, keeping in mind your specific condition and how some may be more effective for you than others.
After reviewing data regarding various treatments for lower back pain, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality concluded that those suffering from back pain should first try conservative/natural treatments and then consider other options for lower back pain relief if pain persists. Oftentimes low back pain sufferers can find relief naturally by making changes to their lifestyles (including sleep, physical activity, stress and body weight) before choosing more intensive care options.
While adding turmeric as a spice to foods tastes good, it has to be eaten in pretty large quantities to get a medicinal effect, as our gut does not absorb it well. The maximum pain relief effects are usually found with supplements that contain curcumin optimized for absorption (such as curcumin phosphatidylcholine complex). I like Meriva by Thorne Research, typical dosage of 500-1000mg twice daily. Although curcumin is much safer than anti-inflammatory medications, it does have some mild blood-thinning effects, so make sure to ask your health care provider before starting supplementation.
Although it is difficult to establish the mechanism of action of a plant due to the variety of its components, in vitro clinical trials have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of arnica are based mainly on the inhibition of NF-kappa B transcription factor, which is a key part of the immunological and anti-inflammatory processes. This protein regulates the transcription of various inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukins, as well as that of the genes encoding COX-2 (an enzyme which favours inflammation).
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.
The information you share, including that which might otherwise be Protected Health Information, to this site is by design open to the public and is not a private, secure service. You should think carefully before disclosing any personal information in any public forum. What you have written may be seen, disclosed to, or collected by third parties and may be used by others in ways we are unable to control or predict, including to contact you or otherwise be used for unauthorized or unlawful purposes. As with any public forum on any site, this information may also appear in third-party search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. Your use of this site is governed by Harvard University and its affiliates Terms of Use located at www.health.harvard.edu/privacy-policy and may be amended from time to time.
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.

A physical therapist will teach you stretches to manage your back pain, as well as exercises to correct any imbalances that might have brought on pain in the first place. Depending on the causes and severity of your back pain, your PT may also employ other treatment techniques, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and active release therapy.
Many athletes and arthritis patients swear capsaicin creams reduce their pain and they love the deep warming sensation they provide. This heat may be associated with relaxation, which reduces their pain response. Researchers have concluded that capsaicin creams may reduce nerve and osteoarthritis pain in some patients (when compared to placebo), but they aren't very effective in reducing muscle pain.  Best results are achieved in joints that are close to the skin, like those in the hands or knee.

The exhibited pain cream of Penetrex brand comprises an evolved pain-relieving mechanism, which in effect is crafted by availing the highly effective ingredients of Cetyl Myristoleate or CMO and Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM. Whereas the first one enacts over the ground cause of all muscular and joint aches that is inflammation, the second one works over the physiological cells and fortifies them to fight pains. Other serviceable ingredients in the formulary include Arnica, Vitamin B6 and Choline. The pain cream is non-sticky and stain-free and vowed to gratis steroids and drugs. It is especially famous for dodging aches over knee, arm, calf, hip and wrist. The parent brand vends it in a 2oz volume pot.
We always want the best pain relief cream, topical gels, sprays, roll-ons, sticks, sprays, patches, and sometime powders that make more of a mess. You will need to decide on what product is best for you or if you should see your doctor for stronger medication. Most of us try to stay away from prescription drugs and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Laugh more often. One study showed that social laughter actually increases pain tolerance.5 Laughing along with others was shown to have the highest positive impact. Laughter has many positive effects, including increasing circulation and oxygen, and raising your body's level of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers). There is a whole movement called "laughter yoga"—which helps people enjoy the many benefits of laughter without having to need a reason to laugh—it just focuses on laughing for its own sake.
Digging a metal tool into a painful spot, such as the bottom of your foot if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, sounds like some sort of medieval torture practice. The Graston technique is an instrument-aided manual therapy that serves as a noninvasive way to deal with soft tissue ailments like achilles tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, shin splints, back and shoulder pain, and other ailments. It’s even been proven to help relieve pain associated with chronic conditions like trigger finger and post-surgery pain in a way that can reduce the amount of painkillers administered.
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.
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]
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 first generic (cheaper) equivalent of Voltaren® Gel entered the marketplace in 2016, produced by Amneal Pharmaceutical. It should be widely available now. Both products are still prescription-only in the US, but fortunately they are over-the-counter almost everywhere else (there’s a rack of tubes of Voltaren by the till at my neighbhourhood drugstore).
Performance Health®, Bon Vital'®, Biofreeze®, BVspa™, TheraBand®, the Color Pyramid Design™ and Associated Colors™, TheraPearl®, Hygenic®, Pedigenix®, Prossage®, Active Ankle® and Cramer® trademarks are property of Performance Health and/or its subsidiaries and may be registered in the United States and other countries. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited. ©2017 Performance Health. All rights reserved.
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.
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

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.


tell your doctor if you have severe diarrhea or vomiting or think you may be dehydrated; if you drink or have a history of drinking large amounts of alcohol, and if you have or have ever had any of the conditions mentioned in the IMPORTANT WARNING section or asthma, especially if you have frequent stuffed or runny nose or nasal polyps (swelling of the lining of the nose); swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs; heart failure; or kidney or liver disease.
For a 2006 report published in Rheumatology, investigators analyzed the available research on the use of balneotherapy in treatment of low back pain. Looking at five clinical trials, the report's authors found "encouraging evidence" suggesting that balneotherapy may be effective for treating patients with low back pain. Noting that supporting data are scarce, the authors call for larger-scale trials on balneotherapy and low back pain.

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


LoveHemp CBD Body Salve  is an infusion of cannabidiol within a lovely base of organic coconut oil, beeswax and argan oil. It is scented with organic rosehip and geranium oil and has a soft, waxy texture at room temperature. A 50 ml pot contains 300mg cannabinoids and you only need to apply a small amount to relieve muscle aches, joint pain and skin irritation.
The human body is a miracle of electrical impulses that keep it functioning and make life possible. Ionic minerals are an essential part in this process, as the body relies on them to conduct and generate electrical impulses. Without the correct balance on ionic minerals in the body, your brain and muscles could not function properly and cells could not properly absorb nutrients.
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.
Cinnamon is a popular natural remedy for helping to control blood sugar, but it can also keep inflammation levels low in the body and improve digestion. (20) Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, but in a modern day where pharmaceutical options abound, it is rarer to use food as medicine. Still, cinnamon and other spices can have broad anti-inflammatory benefits and in many cases, can be equally as effective to (or more) than NSAIDs, whether over-the-counter or prescription. (21)

Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated Jan 9th, 2019), Cerner Multum™ (updated Jan 14th, 2019), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated Jan 7th, 2019) and others. To view content sources and attributions, please refer to our editorial policy.
Aspirin is now believed to target both the NF-kB and COX pathways. These agents inhibit the NF-kB pathway in endothelial cells and block NF-kB activation to inhibit leukocyte recruitment.[114,115,116] NSAIDs have also been found to inhibit both the COX system and the NF-kB pathway. Immunosuppressant drugs also reduce nuclear expression of NF-kB.[39,70,75] Research now indicates that blocking the activation of NF-kB along with other inflammation mediators [Table 2] is the major mechanism for reducing inflammation by natural compounds.
Finally, the active ingredients within a pain relief cream interact with local nerve endings to damp down inflammation, reduce pain and swelling and ease stiffness. All these different actions make topical, rub-in creams and gels highly effective for treating painful joints, sore muscles and sport injuries. Here, I’ve reviewed what I believe are the best pain relief creams, sore muscle creams and pain relief gels.

For those sore muscles and inflammation, peppermint oil and pine will relieve your aches and the chamomile and eucalyptus relieve tender feeling pain. For relieving the stress you are feeling, pink grapefruit, lemongrass, and spearmint oil will do that for you. These are all natural products providing you with vitamins A and C and antioxidants with the aloe vera providing moisture to your skin.
I am allergic to anti-inflammatory pills since they affect my stomach. I don't like the bad side effects they give either. So I look to topical anti-inflammatory cream to help when I have back, hip and/or shoulders sprains and strains. I have tried endless products: Penetrex, Aspercreme, Australian dream, Celadrin and so on. Out of these, Muscle Care works best for pain management. However, I do have some skin reactions to it so I have to give it a rest. When that happens, I use Topricin which works quite well. However, to me, SynthaFlex works as well, if not better. On top of that, it gives a strong cool menthol effect which Topricin doesn't. So when I overwork some muscles, I like to use SynthaFlex and/or Topricin. When my skin reactions calm down, I go back to using Muscle Care from time to time. I also use a roller to stretch which also helps. I hope this review gives others a better sense of what might work for them.

We looked at both gels and creams to create our top ten list. How did we evaluate consistency? We looked at whether the substances stained, went on greasy, or were otherwise messy to deal with. Did users like the feel of the gel or cream on their skin? Why or why not? We also looked at whether formulas were quick drying and whether they left a residue. When it came to ingredients, we wanted to select as many options as possible with natural ingredients that were easily recognizable.
All products and services featured are selected by our editors. Real Simple may receive compensation for some links to products and services in this email on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. Real Simple is part of the Meredith Home Group. © Copyright Meredith Corporationthis link opens in a new tab. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited | Privacy policythis link opens in a new tab | Terms of Servicethis link opens in a new tab | Ad Choicesthis link opens in a new tab | Your California Privacy Rightsthis link opens in a new tab | EU Data Subject Requeststhis link opens in a new tab
Ginger is in the same family of anti-inflammatory spices as turmeric. While they share similar benefits, ginger is well known for its ability to relieve nausea associated with pregnancy and cancer treatments. It can also relieve pain in the same category as NSAIDs, making it another effective alternative to over-the-counter medications that have unpleasant side effects. (18)

Meditate twice daily. Meditation comes in many varieties, some complex, others simple. One common approach is just to find a sound that is pleasing to you but has no particular meaning (like "som"), close your eyes, sit still and comfortably, and repeat the sound in your mind. When your thoughts wander, notice that they have wandered and return to your sound. If you feel your pain, notice the pain and return to your sound.
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
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have shown efficacy in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) pain but are also associated with a dose-dependent risk of gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, hematologic, hepatic, and renal adverse events (AEs). Topical NSAIDs were developed to provide analgesia similar to their oral counterparts with less systemic exposure and fewer serious AEs. Topical NSAIDs have long been available in Europe for the management of OA, and guidelines of the European League Against Rheumatism and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International specify that topical NSAIDs are preferred over oral NSAIDs for patients with knee or hand OA of mild-to-moderate severity, few affected joints, and/or a history of sensitivity to oral NSAIDs.
A study involving 172 people with osteoarthritis of the knee compared the use of a arnica gel with a prescribed, nonsteroidal anti-iflammatory gel (the NSAID piroxicam) with 1g of gel applied three times a day for 4 weeks. The results showed a pain reduction of 16.5 in the arnica gel group versus only 8.1 in the NSAID gel group and the researchers concluded that the Arnica gel was at least as effective and as well tolerated as the NSAID gel. A similar trial involving over 200 people with osteoarthritis of the hands showed that arnica gel was just as effective as an NSAID (ibuprofen) gel in reducing pain and improving hand function.
On September 30, 2004, Merck Research Laboratories announced the global withdrawal of rofecoxib (Vioxx), its primary selective COX-2–inhibiting NSAID.[52,90,122] Analysis of the results of the Adenomatous Polyps Prevention on Vioxx study (known as the APPROVe study) showed that there was double the risk of serious thromboembolic events, including myocardial infarction, which became apparent after 18 months of Vioxx treatment.[26] Selective COX-2 NSAID’s thrombotic mechanism of action is based on COX-1’s unopposed action to continued platelet synthesis of thromboxane. Thromboxane is a thrombogenic and atherogenic eicosanoid. Prostacyclin prevents formation of platelet clotting. By inhibiting COX-2 that blocks production of prostacyclin (PGI2) there is unopposed thromboxane which will increase the clotting risk. Thus, inhibiting prostacyclin led to the increased risk of thrombotic cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events.[5,26,73,123]

One of the problems with pain relief creams is that application can become messy. It can be difficult to keep the cream contained to the area of skin that needs treating, and if you get the product on your hands, it’s easy to accidentally rub it into the eyes, which can be painful! To the rescue: Roll-on formulas, like Outback All-Natural Pain Relief, which allow for hands-free and targeted pain relief. The product contains just four ingredients: tea tree oil, vanilla, eucalyptus, and olive oil. The ingredients ease pain by reducing inflammation.
Did you know that the sensation of pain actually originates in your brain? Fortunately, we can actively alter the way our brain evaluates painful stimuli, helping to increase our pain tolerance and decrease painful symptoms.[12,13] Several techniques that aim to take more control over our minds and that relax the body can work wonders for pain control. Here are a few good examples:
×