Many of the 10 million Americans suffering from widespread muscle pain due to fibromyalgia look for non-prescriptions options for pain relief. As a physician with fibromyalgia myself, I want to share with you the most effective natural options that I include in my own pain relief “toolbox,” which includes anti-inflammatory herbs, topical creams, and a unique form of massage that breaks up painful muscle knots.
"I don't use topical pain relievers often, but when I do I use a product called Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). It's a menthol-based gel that soothes local aches and pains in much the same way that ice therapy works but with less skin irritation, and the ability to be mobile once it's applied. It's also the product physical therapists and massage therapists choose." — Yusuf Jeffers, Tone House coach
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.
"I am a huge fan of Normatec recovery bags (starting at $1600; normatecrecovery.com) You put them on like sleeves and fill up with air while massaging the muscle. It is a game changer when it comes to helping with sore muscles. Not only does it help with soreness but helps flush lactic acids and improves circulation." —Chase Weber, celebrity personal trainer (Try his three-part total-body workout for strength, power, and stability.)
Topical gels have been shown to reduce the need for oral analgesics which is a good thing for reducing side effects.One trial found that topical capsaicin reduce pain more than placebo in people with AS, although it can cause burning sensations. Another trial used a gel form of a drug called tenoxicam (an NSAID) that suggested it might be helpful. Do ask your specialist if you can try something like voltarol – or a stronger version on prescription – and follow their individual advice. They may prefer you to have some oral anti-inflammatory on board to reduce inflammation throughout the body, however.
“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” *
SAMe is one of the natural chemicals made within the body that science has been able to duplicate in a lab, and make into a supplement. Studies have shown SAMe supplementation to be comparable to the pain-relieving effects of Celebrex by the second month of taking the product, without the side effects. The SAMe chemical has a role in pain, depression, liver disease and has been shown effective when used for relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headache, depression and more, making it a great natural remedy for inflammation.
Capsaicin cream, also called capsicum cream, is available in drug stores, health food stores, and online. A typical dosage is 0.025% capsaicin cream applied four times a day. The most common side effect is a stinging or burning sensation in the area. If possible, wear disposable gloves (available at drugstores) before applying the cream. Be careful not to touch the eye area or open skin. A tube or jar of capsaicin cream typically costs between $8 and $25.
I’m not saying NSAIDs are useless. They have their place. If you’re recovering from surgery or a major injury, traditional over-the-counter pain relievers are good for controlling inflammation, swelling, and pain, but NSAIDs are far too powerful for over-the-counter, everyday use. Unlike a lot of natural pain relievers, NSAIDs also don’t address the cause of inflammation or pain; they just mask the symptoms.