Also, many painful factors in neck, back and muscle pain are deep inside the body — probably much deeper than Voltaren® Gel can “reach.” For instance, if your low back pain is coming from the facet joints — small joints deep in the spine, under a thick layer of muscle — chances are that a topical treatment simply doesn’t stand a chance of having an effect.
Warnings: For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes, mucous membranes, and broken or irritated skin. In case of accidental contact, flush with water. Keep out of the reach of children. If irritation occurs, discontinue use immediately. Do not tightly wrap or bandage or use with other topical preparations or heating pads. Consult a doctor if you are pregnant/nursing, under 12 years old, have sensitive skin, your condition persists or worsens, or excessive burning or irritation persists.
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.
Laugh more often. One study showed that social laughter actually increases pain tolerance.5 Laughing along with others was shown to have the highest positive impact. Laughter has many positive effects, including increasing circulation and oxygen, and raising your body's level of endorphins (the body's natural pain killers). There is a whole movement called "laughter yoga"—which helps people enjoy the many benefits of laughter without having to need a reason to laugh—it just focuses on laughing for its own sake.
Turmeric. This spice has been used to relieve arthritis pain and heartburn, and to reduce inflammation. It's unclear how turmeric works against pain or inflammation, but its activity may be due to a chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is usually safe to use, but high doses or long-term use may cause indigestion. Also, people with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric.
3. Menthol, Eucalyptus and Mint Oils. Pain relieving creams containing either one or a combination of menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, spearmint, wintergreen or peppermint are thought to work by "confusing" nerve signals into feeling heat and cold sensations instead of pain. Popular brands include Mentholatum Deep Heating Rub® and Icy Hot® (which may contain methyl salicylate too). While many pain sufferers say these products work, its' relief is temporary at best. These pain relief creams have to be reapplied frequently and tend to have strong fragrances.
Pain relief products that provide a cooling sensation can help distract the body from pain signals to ease comfort. One to try is Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, which is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers to relieve muscle and joint pain. The formula contains 4 percent menthol—which is responsible for the cooling sensation—as well as an herbal blend of camphor, aloe, arnica, calendula, and more. The cream is NSAID-free and doesn’t contain parabens or propylene glycol.
Curcumin has also been suggested as a treatment for colitis, chronic neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, and cancer. In addition, it regulates the activity of several enzymes and cytokines by inhibiting both COX-1 and COX-2. Most studies to date have been performed in animals, but given the centuries of use of curcumin, as well as its now demonstrated activity in the NF-kB, COX-1, and COX-2 inflammatory pathways, it may be considered a viable natural alternative to nonsteroidal agents for the treatment of inflammation.
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.
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.
Boswellia serrata is a traditional Indian Ayurvedic remedy for inflammatory conditions. It is extracted from the gum of the Indian boswellia tree and has been in use for centuries to treat joint pain and inflammation. It provides anti-inflammatory activity in areas where there is chronic inflammation by turning off the pro-inflammatory cytokines that begin the inflammatory process. Moreover, research shows that the acids contained within boswellia extract stop the formation of immune cells known as leukotrienes, which are responsible for inflammation. This then allows blood to flow unobstructed to the joints for healing and improved mobility.
Patient information articles published in both the Journal of North American Spine Society and the Journal of the American Medical Association found evidence that spinal manipulations were safe, effective, drugless forms of professional treatment for both acute (short-term or sudden) and chronic low back problems in adults. (2, 3) Egoscue, another type of postural therapy protocol that focuses on fixing musculoskeletal misalignments, may also be able to help reduce and prevent back pain.
Break out that bag of frozen peas (or an ice pack, if you want to get fancy) for the first 48 hours after the pain sets in, and put it to use for 20 minutes a session, several sessions per day. After those two days are behind you, switch to 20-minute intervals with a heating pad. Localized cooling shuts down capillaries and reduces blood flow to the area, which helps ease the swelling, says Lisa DeStefano, an associate professor at Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine in East Lansing. Cold also thwarts your nerves' ability to conduct pain signals. Heat, on the other hand, loosens tight muscles and increases circulation, bringing extra oxygen to the rescue.
NSAIDs such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may cause swelling, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, smoke, or drink alcohol while using topical diclofenac. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors and if you have or have ever had ulcersor bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following medications: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); aspirin; other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); oral steroids such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Rayos); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Selfemra, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR). If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using topical diclofenac and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting a substance that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool,or black and tarry stools.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse. In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.