I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com

Acupuncture: Acupuncture may provide even more relief than painkillers, according to one 2013 review. In 11 studies of more than 1,100 people, this Chinese medicine staple improved symptoms of lower back pain better than simulated treatments and, yes, in some cases, NSAIDs. The needles appear to change the way your nerves react and may reduce inflammation around joints (which is only one of the therapy's benefits), says DeStefano.


Foam roller exercises are a form of self-myofascial release that, while kind of mildly painful at times, actually gets out those nagging muscle knots while helping you fix muscle imbalances that lead to poor posture and related musculoskeletal pain. It’s also an emerging treatment to reduce your risk of developing delayed muscle onset soreness, a common exercise-related pain that keeps people out of the gym. (6)
For short-term pain relief, over-the-counter pain relievers including acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are sometimes suggested. The most common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). Potential side effects of NSAIDs include stomach and liver problems. Talk to your doctor if you don't find relief after taking the recommended dose.

This US-made pain relieving gel comes in a 16-ounce jar, meaning it doesn’t run out fast and is there when you need it. It provides an immediate cooling sensation as soon as it is applied, but it’s what happens next that makes it stand out. The cooling relief intensifies over the next 10 minutes while the ingredients are working together, until it reaches the maximum level of ultra freeze pain relief. This sensation is maintained for the next 30 minutes or more.
Studies have shown that the gel from this medicinal plant is able to relieve the pain and improve joint movement and stiffness in individuals with arthrosis in the fingers at the same level as ibuprofen. It demonstrates that arnica is an effective alternative to the use of NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen) against this type of conditions, as arnica also prevents the gastric irritation caused by treatment with ibuprofen. Its use is therefore particularly recommended in individuals with stomach problems.
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Rannou F, Pelletier JP, Martel-Pelletier J. Efficacy and safety of topical NSAIDs in the management of osteoarthritis: Evidence from real-life setting trials and surveys. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2016 Feb;45(4 Suppl):S18–21. PubMed #26806189. “Topical NSAIDs have a moderate effect on pain relief, with efficacy similar to that of oral NSAIDs, with the advantage of a better risk:benefit ratio. In real-life studies, topical and oral NSAIDs demonstrate an equivalent effect on knee pain over 1 year of treatment, with fewer adverse events due to lower systemic absorption of topical NSAIDs compared with oral NSAIDs.” BACK TO TEXT

“Relief pain cream is my favorite vs. Icy Hot and Bengay, both of which I've never really liked due to their smell and their burning my skin. This stuff soothes & heals like no other! Relief has a pleasant and relaxing scent (including, but not limited to, lavender and menthol) and it doesn't hurt at all. I use it for muscle aches and headaches, allergies, colds (around temples, chest, neck, ears) AND on sunburns. Yep, this stuff is better than anything else I've tried on sunburns! I also use it occasionally for foot pain after being on my feet all day. I use essential oils, and I could probably blend my own version of this, but this blend is so perfect that I don't even want to try” *
You never want to put a heating pad on top of the topical product after it’s on your skin. It can cause skin irritation and possible burns. If you apply a lotion or gel having methyl salicylate, do not start exercising. Your body can absorb too much of it from your increased blood circulation and that’s not good. Do not put on areas such as broken skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, or irritated area. Pregnant and breastfeed women should not use topical pain relievers without consulting their doctor. Babies should not use these products, nor young children.
“Relief pain cream is my favorite vs. Icy Hot and Bengay, both of which I've never really liked due to their smell and their burning my skin. This stuff soothes & heals like no other! Relief has a pleasant and relaxing scent (including, but not limited to, lavender and menthol) and it doesn't hurt at all. I use it for muscle aches and headaches, allergies, colds (around temples, chest, neck, ears) AND on sunburns. Yep, this stuff is better than anything else I've tried on sunburns! I also use it occasionally for foot pain after being on my feet all day. I use essential oils, and I could probably blend my own version of this, but this blend is so perfect that I don't even want to try” *

This can vary depending on the reason for treating you, so speak with your doctor for advice. If you are using an anti-inflammatory for acute muscle pain, usually treatment lasts for as long as you have pain and inflammation. For example, a few days, or weeks. But if you are being treated for conditions like osteoarthritis, your doctor may advise you to use this medicine for the long term.
Often patients will experience a different response in treatment with a different medication. This could be why some medications have helped your symptoms while others do not have a significant effect. This is not unusual, and it is difficult to predict which medications will most benefit a given individual. The best way to determine which NSAID is best for you is to try different options. Often a physician will recommend one NSAID, and if adequate relief of symptoms is not obtained within several weeks of treatment, another NSAID can be tried.

Pycnogenol inhibits TNF-α–induced NF-kB activation as well as adhesion molecule expression in the endothelium. Grimm et al, recently reported that oral intake of pycnogenol inhibited NF-kB activation in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated monocytes as well, thus decreasing the inflammatory response. It also statistically significantly inhibited matrix metalloproteinase-9.[46] This matrix-degrading enzyme is highly expressed at sites of inflammation, and contributes to the pathogenesis of various chronic inflammatory diseases.[96]
When anti-inflammatories are taken by mouth they work by blocking (inhibiting) the effect of chemicals (enzymes) called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. COX enzymes help to make other chemicals called prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins are involved in the production of pain and inflammation at sites of injury or damage. A reduction in prostaglandin production reduces pain and inflammation.
Plant- and animal-derived nutraceutical preparations have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years to obtain effective pain relief. Herbal medications are becoming increasingly popular because of their relatively few side effects. Nevertheless, there are problems associated with these dietary supplements, and their use requires knowledge of their biological action, clinical studies (both affirmative and negative), and potential interactions with other nutraceutical products and prescription medications.
If these aches and pains sound all too familiar, then there’s a whole host of safe and effective treatments available to get back pain relief and to then relieve arthritis pain – herbal remedies, special foods, over-the-counter medicines, exercises, and more (see our Arthritis Solutions Special Report for details). But the quickest and safest way to soothe arthritis pain is with a topical cream that contains:
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.
The most often neglected method to control inflammation that I see in my patients is rest. Not only does this mean resting from athletics, but often this means allowing an injured body part to rest from normal activities which may prolong inflammation. We live busy lives that may not allow for rest, but ignoring the signs of inflammation may prolong the problem. Therefore, look for ways to rest your injured body part to allow the inflammation to subside and the recovery process to unfold.
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.
Although it is normal to experience some pain and soreness when running or while engaging in similarly intense forms of physical activity, pain that persists long after you exercise is usually indicative of a greater problem. Be sure to consult with a medical professional before turning to any topical creams and gels; they can help you diagnose the source of your pain and may recommend alternate treatment options.

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
Prolotherapy has been used to treat back pain for more than 50 years, according to a report by the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (6) Prolotherapy, including the specific type called PRP or dextrose/glucose prolotherapy treatments, use platelet-rich plasma and sometimes stem cells taken from your own body that contain growth factors that help heal damaged tissues.
Note: The cream is hot to your skin and should be used with caution. The heat comes from capsicum (capsicum annuum) oleoresin a hot pepper. Try a small amount the first time at your inside wrist and wait a half hour to see how it feels. Do not bathe or shower after putting it on because that will only make you feel hotter. Let your body cool down first. Never put the cream near your eyes or mucous membranes such at the lower nose. Do not use on your private area. Wash your hands after you have rubbed the cream into your skin.
The Penetrex® pain relief cream is a top choice for those suffering from arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, neck pain, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, sore aching joints and muscles, tennis and golfer’s elbow, neuropathy, sports injuries, plantar fasciitis, strains, sprains, hip and shoulder pain, all pain and other inflammations. The advanced development cream comes in a 2-ounce jar with other sizes available. Eight years went into the development and creation of this fantastic cream. Penetrex is favored by people troubled with inflammation related injuries because it works!
Topical treatments: One potential concern with dietary supplements is that some may interfere with medications you’ve been prescribed to treat back pain or other health conditions. For this reason, Grossman suggests topical treatments: “Gels and creams can be very helpful and won't interfere with supplements or medications,” she explains. “They're generally inexpensive, too.”
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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