If you’re someone who experiences muscle and joint pain from time to time (or on a regular basis), you’ve probably tried quite a few options for pain relief. And you’re probably already using external pain relievers—the kind you apply directly to your skin for fast relief from sore muscles and joints. But have you thought of adding an external pain relief cream to the mix?
An ancient mind-body practice, meditation has been found to increase pain tolerance and promote management of chronic pain in a number of small studies. In addition, a number of preliminary studies have focused specifically on the use of meditation in the management of low back pain. A 2008 study published in Pain, for example, found that an eight-week meditation program led to an improvement of pain acceptance and physical function in patients with chronic low back pain. The study included 37 older adults, with members meditating an average of 4.3 days a week for an average of 31.6 minutes a day.
Homeopathic (diluted) herbal ointments featuring Arnica are claimed to be good medicine for muscle pain, joint pain, sports injuries and bruises, but their effectiveness is questionable. Known to most customers as an “herbal” arnica cream, most actually contain only trace amounts — too little to be a chemically active ingredient. Homeopathy involves extreme dilution of ingredients, to the point of completely removing them. Some other herbal ingredients may be less diluted and more useful. However, neither homeopathic or pure herbal creams of this type have produced results better than placebo in good quality modern tests. See Does Arnica Gel Work for Pain? A detailed review of popular homeopathic (diluted) herbal creams and gels like Traumeel, used for muscle pain, joint pain, sports injuries, bruising, and post-surgical inflammation. BACK TO TEXT
People who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (other than aspirin) such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke than people who do not use these medications. These events may happen without warning and may cause death. This risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time. Do not use an NSAID such as topical diclofenac if you have recently had a heart attack, unless directed to do so by your doctor.Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family has or has ever had heart disease, a heart attack, or a stroke; if you smoke; and if you have or have ever had high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Get emergency medical help right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, weakness in one part or side of your body, or slurred speech.

Alternate warm and cold. Try alternating soaks in warm and cold water, especially if you have swelling. Fill one sink with cold water (65 degrees Fahrenheit) and another with warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit). Leave your hands or feet in the warm water for five to 10 minutes, and then switch to cold for one minute. Return to the warm for three to four minutes, and then switch to cold for another minute. Repeat this four or five times.
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.
It may be tempting to quit exercising when you're suffering from back pain, but it's essential to keep yourself moving. Pilates is one great option. In a 2014 European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine study, researchers found an improvement in pain, disability, and psychological health in chronic low-back pain patients who took five hourlong Pilates classes a week for six months. Meanwhile, people who remained inactive experienced further worsening of their pain. Similarly, a Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise study revealed that taking either Pilates or a general exercise class twice a week for six weeks both improved pain and quality of life.
One way to increase the effectiveness of Biofreeze is to add it to a massage! And what do professional massage therapists use in their practice regularly? Creams and oils to help their hands glide across the skin and focus on relieving pain. External pain relief creams can be used as a part of your at-home massage to not only enhance your comfort, but to soak in and relieve any residual pain.

Ongoing pain can wreak havoc on your life, affecting your cherished relationships, finances, and your ability to get stuff done at work and at home. It can also interrupt your sleep and affect your mood. Because many other problems commonly occur along with chronic lower back pain, anything you can do for yourself that is a natural anti-depressant will help.
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)
You may get pain relief from nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Or your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if those don’t work. But you may have side effects or the medications might not provide complete relief for you. Here are other proven methods you can try to soothe arthritis pain in addition to pills and medical treatments.
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.
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.
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 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.
For a blast of cool pain relief, Biofreeze has been a go-to for arthritis sufferers for decades. Made with 4 percent menthol, this gel promises immediate relief from pain that’s long-lasting. It has a light green color, so you can see where you’re applying it, but it also comes in a colorless version as well. Both versions are greaseless and have a scent that’s designed to disappear after application.
This is a good option for anyone suffering from minor arthritis pain or sore muscles. It has no odor and is perfect for rubbing into the back to relieve backaches and pain. This product does not use any heating or cooling feature, so it is perfect for someone who wants a smell-free pain relief cream without a lot of added features. People have been using this cream for decades, and many continue to prefer it.
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.
Perhaps you bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy. Or you're dealing with a degenerative condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, once you have low back pain, it can be hard to shake. About one in four Americans say they've had a recent bout of low back pain. And almost everyone can expect to experience back pain at some point in their lives.
Hallie Levine is an award-winning magazine and freelance writer who contributes to Consumer Reports on health and fitness topics. Her work has been published in Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and Parents, among others. She's a mom to three kids and a fat but feisty black Labrador Retriever named Ivry. In her (nonexistent) spare time, she likes to read, swim, and run marathons.
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.
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.
Research has shown that the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are some of the most effective natural anti-inflammatory agents available.[12,23–25,27,50,85] With the discovery that vascular inflammation is the underlying cause of coronary artery disease, fish and fish oil supplements are now recommended by the American Heart Association for the prevention of this disease.[12,23–25,27,50,85] Countries that have the highest fish consumption also have a lower incidence of neurodegenerative disease and depression.[12,23–25,27,50,85] The biological basis for the effectiveness of fish oil in treating arthritis has been well documented with many positive clinical studies, when compared to traditional pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory agents.[12,23–25,27,50,85]
5. Birch Leaf (Betula Lenta) – The leaves from the Birch tree act much like cortisone, a prescription drug used to treat endocrine disorders, arthritis, lupus, skin disease, autoimmune disorders, and more. A main chemical compound found in Birch leaves is methyl salicylate, similar to salicylic acid used in aspirin. It is anti-spasmodic, analgesic, astringent, antifungal, diuretic, detoxifying, reduces oxidative damage to skin (stopping wrinkles), and enhances circulation. It also promotes enzymatic secretions in the body. It is truly one of the first powerful pain-relievers ever used.
All the aforementioned creams are exceptional in dealing with joint pains. Therefore, if you wish to deal with pain experienced on the back, knees, and elbow then any of the creams outlined above would do you some good. Even if you may not be a fun of using pain relief medications the ten distinctive anti-inflammatory creams that have been discussed earlier would make you develop a liking for these types of medication.

7) The indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase pathway controls complement-dependent enhancement of chemo-radiation therapy against murine glioblastoma. Li M, Bolduc AR, Hoda MN, Gamble DN, Dolisca SB, Bolduc AK, Hoang K, Ashley C, McCall D, Rojiani AM, Maria BL, Rixe O, MacDonald TJ, Heeger PS, Mellor AL, Munn DH, Johnson TS. J Immunother Cancer. 2014 Jul 7; PMID: 25054064
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.
Author Bio: Ginevra Liptan, MD, developed fibromyalgia while in medical school. She is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine and board-certified in internal medicine. Dr. Liptan is the founder and medical director of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia and the author of The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide For You...And Your Doctor and The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-Life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief.
Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. "Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system. It takes a couple of days for this to occur," says David Kiefer, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
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