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.
People who used an ointment that contains this plant-based extract for 5 days reduced the intensity of lower back pain by 95%, according to a 2009 study conducted by Merck (which manufactures the ointment). In comparison, a placebo group had a 38% reduction in pain during that same time, according to the study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Look for comfrey root ointment in health food stores or online. Just don't use it for more than 10 days at a time—it can be toxic.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might relieve acute back pain. Take these medications only as directed by your doctor. Overuse can cause serious side effects. If OTC pain relievers don't relieve your pain, your doctor might suggest prescription NSAIDs.
Topical glucosamine cream and gel can significantly reduce the pain of knee osteoarthritis within 4 weeks. One study involving a glucosamine cream found that 100% of those with arthritis of the shoulder gained benefit. Of those with arthritis of the ankle, wrist or elbow, glucosamine cream reduced pain in 75% of people, and it worked in 58% of those with knee osteoarthritis.
Turmeric root contains just 2% to 5% curcumin, so when reaching for a supplement, be sure you’re buying curcumin, not powered turmeric root. Curcumin is not easily absorbed by the digestive tract, so choose high-potency curcuminoids and combine with oil, since curcumin is fat-soluble. Black pepper extract (piperine), though not Bulletproof, has also been shown to increase curcumin’s bioavailability by 2000%.[13] However, some newer, high-tech curcuminoid formulas have been shown to offer the same potency levels without the use of piperine.[14]
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Just how does acupuncture work? According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain results from blocked energy along the meridians of the body, which are unblocked when acupuncture needles are inserted along these invisible pathways. Acupuncture may also release natural pain-relieving opioids, send signals to the sympathetic nervous system, and release neurochemicals and hormones.
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.
"I am a true believer in Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). My football coach introduced me to it years ago. It's a topical cooling pain reliever that works very similarly to ice but since it's a gel, I can apply it before teaching classes and training clients to keep function in my muscles and joints. In addition to relieving muscle pain or soreness, it can be used to help arthritis and other muscular and joint discomforts too. " —Mat Forzaglia, The Fhitting Room instructor
A study involving 120 people with acute upper or lower back pain showed that rubbing in comfrey cream, three times a day for 4 to 6 days, reduced pain intensity by 95%, compared with just 38% reduction for inactive ‘placebo’ cream. Comfrey works quickly, providing good pain relief within an hour of application. In fact, researchers have found that comfrey cream is more effective than a prescribed, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment (diclofenac gel) for treating ankle sprains.
Also referred to as "hypnosis," hypnotherapy is a mind-body technique that involves entering a trance-like state of deep relaxation and concentration. When undergoing hypnotherapy, patients are thought to be more open to suggestion. As such, hypnotherapy is often used to effect change in behaviors thought to contribute to health problems (including chronic pain).
Meditation has been proven to reduce chronic pain in several scientific studies. Research from Duke University found that people suffering from chronic back pain saw significant reductions in pain and psychological distress after practicing a form of meditation that focuses on releasing anger. In another study, meditators experienced a 40% reduction in pain intensity.
One concern about the use of products like Voltaren is that several conditions are less inflammatory in nature than they feel like. Patients usually assume that the “burning” pain of repetitive strain injuries like tendinitis is caused by inflammation, but in fact classic inflammation is largely absent, especially after initial flare-ups have died down (but pain is still carrying on). While it is possible, even likely, that tendinitis is still inflamed in some sense, it’s doubtful that they are inflamed in a way that NSAIDs are actually good for. The biochemistry of cranky tendons is rather complex and largely unknown. There’s probably some overlap between the biology of acute, classic inflammation and the subtler biology of chronic tendinitis, but no one really knows. So the value of Voltaren for tendinitis is unclear.

The pump bottle is convenient to use never needing to remove a lid for an analgesic (no aspirin) providing instant and direct pain relief to muscles and joints, such as arthritic pain. There are no NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Ibuprofen, aspirin, or other salicylates. The gel penetrates fast for those strains and sprains in muscle tissues and works just as well on hands, wrists, elbows, arm, ankles, feet, knees—your entire body. The gel will give you temporary relief from minor aches and pains of sore muscles and joints from arthritis, backache, strains and sprains.

For natural headache relief, two essential oils team up for natural pain relief. Peppermint oil improves circulation and lavender reduces muscle tension — two ways to quickly stop a headache in its tracks. Try placing a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil into your hands and then rubbing the blend on your forehead, temples and back of neck. You can also dilute a few drops down by mixing the essential oils with almond, grapeseed or coconut oil.
Authors of a 2016 review published in Seminars in Arthritis & Rheumatism conclude, “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.” However, A 2016 Cochrane review looked at 39 studies with 10,631 participants and found that topical diclofenac, “can provide good levels of pain relief in osteoarthritis, but only for about 10% more people than get this result with topical placebo.”
I purchased this because it was less expensive than Penetrex and I'd thought I'd try it out.. Unfortunately, compared to Penetrex, at least for me, I do not feel that it is worth the savings. I'm using it for Plantar Fasciitis and Osteoarthritis in my knees. Although it does provide some pain relief, the duration is limited to a couple hours, whereas Penetrex lasts for up to half a day. However, SynthaFlex does offer a little more relief, albeit very temporarily, for my Osteoarthritis than Penetrex does. It is not nearly as effective for my Plantar Fasciitis pain. Ultimately, if I have to apply it many times throughout the day, it is not cost effective in comparison.
Beauty Breeze brings this exquisite muscle cream that emerges as a distinctive one for the factuality of getting crafted from peerless pain-soothing herbs and functional emollients extracted from Cajput, Clove, Mint and Cassia. Enriched by the nimbleness of Thai masseurs, this ‘Tiger Balm’ class cream for sore muscles is also lab-tested to be effective over severe type migraines. The reddish consistency muscle cream is accredited as an ‘Extra Strength’ one and is especially operative over abdominal cramps, spinal ache and joint inflammation. Vended in a unique edged carton-pattern container, the cream for sore muscles has a 30 gram density. It has a measure dynamics of 3 x 3 x 4.1 inches and a menthol aroma.
Various studies have also shown that NSAIDs can delay muscle regeneration and may reduce ligament, tendon, and cartilage healing.[4,13,77] Specifically, NSAIDs are believed to wipe out the entire inflammatory mediated proliferative phase of healing associated with WBC actions (days 0–4). A study of the effects of NSAIDs on acute hamstring injuries was done in humans by Reynolds et al.,[93] and these investigators concluded that patients who used NSAIDs did not experience a greater reduction of pain and soft-tissue swelling when compared with the placebo group. Interestingly enough, the authors noted that the NSAIDs’ group had worse pain associated with severe injuries compared with the placebo group.
Low back pain and neck pain often involve a substantial amount of muscle pain,22 and muscle pain is not particularly inflammatory by nature. Muscle knots (trigger points) are more like poisoned muscle than injured muscle. Although there’s some anecdotal evidence that taking an anti-inflammatory medication reduces muscle pain, mostly it doesn’t seem to work very well. One of the classic signs of low back pain powered by muscle, for instance, is that ibuprofen doesn’t have much effect!

Soft tissue therapies help treat the underlying causes of back pain, such as poor posture, muscular compensations, and weakness through manipulative, hands-on adjustments. These natural therapies can help “turn on” muscles that have been “turned off” due to past injuries and therefore eliminate added stress on painful parts of the back or legs. I recommend finding a practitioner who offers one of the following:
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might relieve acute back pain. Take these medications only as directed by your doctor. Overuse can cause serious side effects. If OTC pain relievers don't relieve your pain, your doctor might suggest prescription NSAIDs.
A 2015 Cochrane review of 61 studies involving nearly 8,400 people found that topical NSAIDs relieved pain from strains, sprains, and overuse injuries, but with less side effects than oral NSAIDs. Similarly, a 2006 review of four randomized trials found that topical diclofenac reduced knee pain due to osteoarthritis and was generally well tolerated. 
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.
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