Few people need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn't responded to other therapy.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.”
Capsaicin creams are another topical option for pain relief. These contain the active component in chili peppers that cause a burning sensation. I know its sounds like this would cause more pain, but in fact the low levels of capsaicin in these creams block pain by temporarily depleting the nerves of certain chemicals that transmit pain impulses. Application of this cream three times daily was shown to significantly improve pain scores for fibromyalgia in one study done in Spain.
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.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring yellow pigment derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa), a flowering plant of the ginger family. It has traditionally been used as a coloring and flavoring spice in food products. Curcumin has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent, a treatment for digestive disorders, and to enhance wound healing. Several clinical trials have demonstrated curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic effects. Results of a study by Zandi and Karin suggested that curcumin might be efficacious in the treatment of cystic fibrosis because of its anti-inflammatory effect. Curcumin is known to inhibit inflammation by suppressing NF-kB, restricting various activators of NF-kB as well as stemming its expression.
Since herbal therapies for pain management have yet to be thoroughly studied, be careful when embarking on this treatment path. Regardless of the herb you try, remember that they're not benign. Research into their safety and efficacy is still limited, and the government doesn't regulate herbal products for quality. The best course is to talk to a health-care professional before testing out a herbal remedy.
Almost every person with fibromyalgia describes their muscles as tight and full of painful muscle knots called trigger points. After I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia during medical school, I tried many different styles of massage, but got no benefit until I found a specialized technique called myofascial release pioneered by John Barnes, PT. This form of massage therapy involves using very slow but sustained gentle pressure to separate tiny adhesions in the muscle tissue and fascia, and this lessens muscle tension and gently breaks up knots in the connective tissue (to learn more about the vital importance of fascia in fibromyalgia, read my previous blog post). Two European studies found that myofascial release therapy was effective for reducing fibromyalgia pain, and that it gave long-lasting pain relief even at one month and six months after the last session. To find a John Barnes-trained therapist skilled in this technique go to www.mfrtherapists.com.
For greater efficiency in using these types of products ensure that you by an anti-inflammatory cream that would not make you feel less comfortable when you are around other people. The best quality creams in such a case are the ones whose scent vanishes quickly with every application or the ones that would emit no scent thus allowing you to continue your daily life activities more proficiently with no distractions. The creams made of natural ingredients are the best quality you could ever buy because they are both efficient and would not leave you feeling less comfortable perhaps because of the irritating smell you may be forced to endure in the hopes of dealing with your pain or inflammation that may arise from an injury. Never spend your money on a product that would not serve your needs as desired because the very reason why we buy different products at different points in time is so that they could meet our needs if not then there would be no need of acquiring the product in the first place.
Over the past two decades, evidence has emerged to demonstrate that topical versions of NSAIDs are well absorbed through the skin and reach therapeutic levels in synovial fluid, muscle, and fascia. … For chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, the data are of fair quality and are persuasive. On balance, there’s good evidence to show that topical NSAIDs are clinically- and cost-effective for short term (< 4 weeks) use, especially when pain is localized.
Lower back pain can be mild to very severe depending on its underlying causes, how long it’s been left untreated and the state of someone’s overall health. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that several important risk factors for lower back problems include family history of back pain, smoking or using tobacco, being overweight or obese, being female, being anxious or depressed, and either doing too much physical work or living a sedentary lifestyle.
Arnica montana is a flowering mountain herb with a long history of traditional use in pain relief. Arnica extracts contain numerous pain reliefing ingredients, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids which reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, plus thymol which fights infection. Arnica cream, gel and ointment is used to ease muscle pain and spasm, insect bites, superficial burns – including sunburn – sprains and painful joints caused by arthritis or other rheumatic disorders. Herbal arnica products contain measurable levels of active ingredients, while homeopathic arnica products contain lower levels that work in a different way. Research shows that arnica products are as effective at relieving painful joints as ibuprofen gel when applied two to four times a day.
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The powerful anti-inflammatory ginger is more effective than drugs like ibuprofen for pain relief, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Arthritis. The study revealed that drugs like Tylenol or Advil do block the formation of inflammatory compounds. Ginger, however, “blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds–prostaglandins and leukotrienes–and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints,” reported care2.com.
1., 2., and 3. Ginger, Turmeric, & Holy Basil – This set of herbs forms a sort of trinity in Ayurvedic medicine. All of them have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric (a curry ingredient) contains curcumins which ease inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, according to the Methodist Research Institute in Indianapolis. “Each herb has its own scientific database of evidence,” says James Dillard, MD, author of The Chronic Pain Solution.
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.
Voltaren® Gel (topical diclofenac) is a particularly safe and useful medicine. It’s an anti-inflammatory cream, so it can be applied only where you need it, instead of soaking your entire system with a medication, avoiding or dramatically reducing common side effects like indigestion, as well as some serious safety concerns associated with oral diclofenac. In the US, this drug is FDA-approved to treat osteoarthritis in “joints amenable to topical treatment, such as the knees and those of the hands,” but it probably also works for some other painful problems, such as some repetitive strain injuries and back pain. The evidence shows that it “provides clinically meaningful analgesia.” So this product actually works and gets a pass from skeptics and critics — a rare thing in the world of pain treatments!
Thank you for providing a list with creams that aren’t simply analgesic! Most lists are just full of creams that provide analgesic properties by blocking pain receptors. It doesn’t really help your body repair from damage or strain. I use a cell-regenerative, anti-inflammatory cream with analgesics and its completely natural. It has the MSM and Arnica. I apply it before I work out and after to help nurture and heal my muscles & joints as well provide pain relief. This way I recover faster and get into the gym quicker knowing my body is supported and I am not just exasperating a problem.
The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a natural pain reliever that’s also used in some OTC pain rubs. Rubbing a tiny amount of clove oil on your gums may temporarily ease toothache pain until you can get to a dentist. But too much undiluted clove oil may actually hurt your gums, so discuss this approach with your dentist before trying it at home.