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

“When I was pregnant two years ago with my daughter I had extreme pain in my right shoulder. It went on for months. They did cortisone shots, prescribed Loratab (Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen), and were ready to operate on a pregnant gal the pain was so severe. Eventually the cortisone shots worked and the pain went away. I am now pregnant again and at about 28 weeks the pain was back. This time the pain was worse. The joint hurt so bad I couldn't pull the covers over me in bed. I could only sleep on one side, and NOTHING worked. My chiropractor recommended Relief cream. I was skeptical that a cream could ease my pain when the medical community had nothing that worked. In a total act of desperation I had my husband rub it into the shoulder one night. I slept better than I had in weeks. He rubbed it in the next night and the pain was completely gone. Here I am now 34 weeks pregnant and the pain has been completely gone for 6 weeks. My husband has also used it on his back (after trying everything else under the sun) with similar results. Thank you for a truly amazing product. We have shared this info with our family and friends!” *


Comfrey root has a long history of traditional use to heal wounds and fractures when applied as a poultice, and was commonly known as ‘knit bone’. Modern research shows that comfrey contains two main active ingredients: allantoin which promotes tissue regeneration, and rosmarinic acid which damps down inflammation and reduces pain. Comfrey root cream is a popular and effective treatment for joint pain, sprains and strains.
"I love Elemental Herbs All Good Herbal Freeze with Arnica ($20; allgoodproducts.com) because the combination of menthol and arnica is incredibly cooling. Also, it's all-natural and super easy to just spray onto my sore areas. I also like Arnica Muscle and Joint Gel by Naturopathica ($28; naturopathica.com), which is a gel. You can rub it in and it really targets the sore muscles and joints." —Holly Rilinger, master Flywheel instructor, creator of LIFTED
“When I was pregnant two years ago with my daughter I had extreme pain in my right shoulder. It went on for months. They did cortisone shots, prescribed Loratab (Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen), and were ready to operate on a pregnant gal the pain was so severe. Eventually the cortisone shots worked and the pain went away. I am now pregnant again and at about 28 weeks the pain was back. This time the pain was worse. The joint hurt so bad I couldn't pull the covers over me in bed. I could only sleep on one side, and NOTHING worked. My chiropractor recommended Relief cream. I was skeptical that a cream could ease my pain when the medical community had nothing that worked. In a total act of desperation I had my husband rub it into the shoulder one night. I slept better than I had in weeks. He rubbed it in the next night and the pain was completely gone. Here I am now 34 weeks pregnant and the pain has been completely gone for 6 weeks. My husband has also used it on his back (after trying everything else under the sun) with similar results. Thank you for a truly amazing product. We have shared this info with our family and friends!” *
This cream uses a blend of essential oils. It smells nice and when you apply it, and it moisturizes the skin. By providing cooling relief for troubled areas, this product alleviates a lot of muscle discomfort, making it ideal for a variety of people, including athletes and anyone suffering from chronic pain. It’s a bit like Icyhot, except it is made with natural healing oils.
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.

Prostaglandins act as short-lived localized hormones that can be released by any cell of the body during tissue, chemical, or traumatic injury, and can induce fever, inflammation, and pain, once they are present in the intercellular space. Thromboxanes, which are also hormone activators, can regulate blood vessel tone, platelet aggregation, and clot formation to increase the inflammatory response.[92,82] The inflammatory pathway is a complex biochemical pathway which, once stimulated by injury, leads to the production of these and other inflammatory mediators whose initial effect is pain and tissue destruction, followed by healing and recovery.[34,51] A major component of the inflammatory pathway is called the arachidonic acid pathway because arachidonic acid is immediately released from traumatized cellular membranes. Membrane-based arachidonic acid is transformed into prostaglandins and thromboxanes partly through the enzymatic action of cyclooxygenase (COX)[34,57]. There are two types of COX enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Both the enzymes act similarly, but selective inhibition (as accomplished by selective COX-2 inhibiting NSAIDs) can make a difference in terms of side effects.


Cinnamon is a popular natural remedy for helping to control blood sugar, but it can also keep inflammation levels low in the body and improve digestion. (20) Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, but in a modern day where pharmaceutical options abound, it is rarer to use food as medicine. Still, cinnamon and other spices can have broad anti-inflammatory benefits and in many cases, can be equally as effective to (or more) than NSAIDs, whether over-the-counter or prescription. (21)

Because natural supplements are made of organically existing substances, they affect the body in gentle ways—without side effects. The ingredients within natural remedies for inflammation, pain and anything for that matter often do not work as quickly as drugs do at relieving pain or inflammation. However, they do offer acute relief in the short term while working more powerfully over time to create a gradual and lasting change in condition. In other words, natural supplements need to build up in your system to get to a level where more significant change occurs, which is why you often will need to take them several times per day, over periods of weeks and months or even longer.
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.

Schematic showing that when a cell membrane is injured the arachidonic acid pathway is activated to initiate the local inflammatory response through the production of prostaglandins, thromboxanes, and leukotrienes. Their activation requires the enzymes COX and LOX. The NSAIDs can block COX action and thereby prevent the formation of the COX-derived inflammatory mediators. 5-HPETE = 5-hydroperoxyeicosatetraenoic acid; LTC4 = leukotriene C4; PGE2 = prostaglandin E2; PGF2 = prostaglandin F2; PGI2 = prostacyclin; TXA2 = thromboxane.

Many athletes and arthritis patients swear capsaicin creams reduce their pain and they love the deep warming sensation they provide. This heat may be associated with relaxation, which reduces their pain response. Researchers have concluded that capsaicin creams may reduce nerve and osteoarthritis pain in some patients (when compared to placebo), but they aren't very effective in reducing muscle pain.  Best results are achieved in joints that are close to the skin, like those in the hands or knee.
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.
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In the case of topical creams, many individuals may suffer from allergies that they weren't even aware of until they encounter a negative reaction. These reactions can range in severity from mild skin irritation to more severe issues such as inflammation and increased pain. Remember to check all the ingredients for any topical medication you buy in order to avoid potential allergens and irritants.
Still an excellent product. It remains effective for pain relief for about 5 hours with each application for me. Make sure to rub in a good thick portion for several minutes to the entire area of pain. Each jar of Synthaflex lasts about 18 days for me with applications twice each day. It remains the best external joint and muscle pain relief rub that I have ever used.
Even though it is important to strive for quality when shopping for different types of products on the market, it is equally important that you think about your budget before making any purchase. Make sure that what you buy like, in this case, the anti-inflammatory cream does not overstretch your existing budget. Once you find the brand that is within your price range, the next thing to ascertain to would be to ensure that the reasonably priced brand is effective and would not have adverse side effects on your health. Nevertheless, just keep in mind that there are counterfeits products available on the market. Therefore, it is vital to watch out for such products so that you do not become a victim of purchasing counterfeit goods so that you would have not only wasted your money but you may end up with a product that may have dire consequences to your health. The best way you could avoid being duped with the unscrupulous dealers is by consulting with your doctor who would advise you best on the anti-inflammatory cream that would adequately serve your needs regardless of the price at which it might be sold on the market.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."
You probably wonder what are in the topical products, right? Menthol is cooling, capsaicin from chili pepper makes your skin feel warm. Methyl salicylate, from the oil of wintergreen, also gives you a feeling of warmth or heat. Eucalyptus is also cooling. These ingredients are known as counter-irritants causing the nerves to have a less intense sensation where blood circulation might increase at the area as the theory goes. We just do not know the exact method for working.
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.
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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