The most commonly used drugs to treat chronic pain conditions include opioids (morphine), nonsteroids (salicylates such as aspirin and ibuprofen), antidepressants, antiepileptics and anti-nerve growth factor inhibitors. All of these drugs have awful side effects and addictive tendencies. In fact, prescription and over the counter pain medications are the fastest growing drug addiction in North America (1).
For arthritis relief, it is important to have proteolytic activity on the systemic level. Known as protease, this category of enzymes acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of proteins into peptides or amino acids. This helps control both systemic inflammation and inflammation resulting from soft tissue injuries, like those associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Proteolytic enzymes also provide essential antioxidant and cardiovascular support. I will discuss two of the more potent ones here:
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.
“I am a musician and have been one for almost 40 years. With practice and performance comes pain, which sometimes becomes chronic. I manage it with body work and adjustments but I can’t always be around practitioners, especially when I am traveling. These pain relieving patches fill the void extremely well providing relief, very quickly without chemicals or drugs. Kudos to Luminas for developing them. Highly recommended!” – Rafe S.
If you need stronger pain relief, talk to your doctor about a prescription topical NSAID. A prescription topical NSAID is stronger than OTC products. Topical NSAIDs also carry less risk of stomach upset, ulcers, or other problems than oral NSAIDs do. The only prescription topical NSAID currently available is called Voltaren (diclofenac). Talk to your doctor to find out if it’s right for you.
Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis comes as gel (Voltaren) to apply to the affected skin area four times a day to treat arthritis pain. Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis also comes as a 1.5% liquid (Pennsaid) to apply to the knee four times a day. Topical diclofenac for osteoarthritis also comes as a 2% liquid (Pennsaid) to apply to the knee twice a day. Apply diclofenac gel (Voltaren) or liquid (Pennsaid) at around the same time(s) every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often or for a longer period of time than prescribed by your doctor. Do not apply the gel or liquid to any area of your body that your doctor did not tell you to treat.
Have your friend or partner give you a relaxing massage for your tired sore muscles at the end of the day and you do the same for them. Aging, as many know, is not too kind giving us cellulite, sagging skin, wrinkles, and other things we despise. Muscles are not as taunt and tight as they were when we were younger. And, the young people can keep their youthful appearance with this cream.
Sleep disturbances are common among people with chronic back pain, and not getting enough quality sleep may actually worsen inflammation and pain. For a better night's sleep, invest in a good mattress and experiment with different sleeping positions. Adding an extra pillow under your body can help maintain the natural curve in your spine. If you’re a back sleeper, try putting the pillow under both knees; for stomach sleepers, try under your pelvis. If you sleep on your side, sleeping with a pillow between the knees may help.
The advantage of using a topical analgesic is that the medication works locally. Targeting pain more precisely using a medication applied to the skin can help skirt the side effects of oral drugs. This can be a boon for people whose stomachs are sensitive to NSAIDs. (Keep in mind that a small amount of the medicine still enters the bloodstream and ends up in the stomach and elsewhere, so a topical analgesic isn’t a guarantee against NSAID-related stomach irritation.)
Nearly everyone suffers from some type of back pain at some point in their lives. But no matter when it appears or what may have caused it, back pain can be a real, well … pain to deal with. The good news? There are several simple things you can do to ease pain and keep your back in good condition. The following tips can help you get on the way toward feeling better.
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.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture may provide even more relief than painkillers, according to one 2013 review. In 11 studies of more than 1,100 people, this Chinese medicine staple improved symptoms of lower back pain better than simulated treatments and, yes, in some cases, NSAIDs. The needles appear to change the way your nerves react and may reduce inflammation around joints (which is only one of the therapy's benefits), says DeStefano.
Any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period will release pain-relieving endorphins into your system. The obvious problem is: How do you exercise if you're in too much pain to exercise? For many, the solution is to pick an exercise that is tolerable and start with help from a the right type of health professional, such as a physiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist.
"Arnicare Gel ($8; target.com) had me at first application. It not only works great to help relieve any muscle pain and swelling, but it also has no scent and isn't greasy. I can apply it at night or even before a workout." —Derek DeGrazio, celebrity trainer, Barry's Bootcamp Miami Beach (See his Barry's Bootcamp-Inspired Abs, Butt, and Core Workout.)
The evaluation of nutraceutical preparations with appropriately designed controlled studies has exploded in recent years. There is now a greater degree of confidence based on controlled study design and improved quality of the investigators that has strengthened positive findings found using natural compounds to treat diseases. It is important for healthcare practitioners to learn about these scientific studies to counsel patients who are taking various dietary supplements, herbs minerals and vitamins for both disease treatment and prevention.
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