Arthritis is a painful and sometimes crippling condition that affects more than 50 million Americans. There are many different types of arthritis, but one thing sufferers all have in common is the desire for relief from the pain, swelling, and stiffness that typically accompany it. Fortunately, there are a host of over-the-counter creams that can help. While they may not work for every arthritis sufferer, there are many that can help.
Think of Voltaren® Gel as “ibuprofen in a gel.” (It’s actually diclofenac, but ibuprofen is a much more familiar drug name in North America, where the product is still fairly new, and available only with a prescription in the US.) It’s a topical anti-inflammatory medication,NSAID“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug,” usually pronounced “en-sed.” and FDA-approved to treat osteoarthritis in “joints amenable to topical treatment, such as the knees and those of the hands.” The evidence shows that it “provides clinically meaningful analgesia.”1 This is an appealing treatment idea that actually works reasonably well: what a pleasure to be able to say that!2
Cool it off. To do a 10-minute ice massage, fill up small paper or foam cups about one third full and freeze them. When ready to use, peel away the top of the cup to expose the ice and gently slide over the painful area. Try to avoid the bony parts of the joint, such as the knee cap and elbow points. Cover the affected area with a plastic wrap before applying the ice to protect the skin, and place a towel underneath to pick up the moisture as the ice melts. You can also use ice cubes wrapped in plastic for smaller areas. Cold packs and wraps applied for 15 to 30 minutes may also relieve sore lower back or shoulders.
Ginger is in the same family of anti-inflammatory spices as turmeric. While they share similar benefits, ginger is well known for its ability to relieve nausea associated with pregnancy and cancer treatments. It can also relieve pain in the same category as NSAIDs, making it another effective alternative to over-the-counter medications that have unpleasant side effects. (18)
Limited bed rest. Once the mainstay of treatment for back pain, bed rest has fallen out of favor. Doctors now know it's better to keep moving, so that your muscles don't become stiff. Bed rest can still be useful relief from low back pain, particularly if your pain is so severe that it hurts to sit or stand. But try to limit it to a few hours at a time and for no more than one or two days.
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."
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.