Although it is normal to experience some pain and soreness when running or while engaging in similarly intense forms of physical activity, pain that persists long after you exercise is usually indicative of a greater problem. Be sure to consult with a medical professional before turning to any topical creams and gels; they can help you diagnose the source of your pain and may recommend alternate treatment options.
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Deng ZH, Zeng C, Yang Y, et al. Topical diclofenac therapy for osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Rheumatol. 2016 May;35(5):1253–61. PubMed #26242469. “Topical diclofenac is effective in pain relief as a treatment of OA. It may also have a potential effect in function improvement, which needs further studies to be explored. Although, some adverse effects were observed in the application of topical diclofenac, none of them was serious.” BACK TO TEXT
Joints are complicated structures that “rely on bone, muscle, and ligaments all working together to provide a full range of motion,” says Holly Lucille, a Los Angeles-based naturopath. Understanding the source of your joint pain or inflammation is important, she adds, in order to pinpoint the most effective remedy. It could be an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, but in other cases, food sensitivities can be the culprit.
Natural remedies, on the other hand, are made from the stuff of nature. This includes leaves, twigs, berries, bark, roots, vines, vitamins and minerals. They are natural substances that can’t be regulated by the FDA because they are technically foodstuffs. If you understood herbology you could, as many traditional cultures do, adjust your diet to include the herbals in your meals. However, for painful and chronic conditions, like arthritis, this would mean at every meal. Taking these ingredients as supplements to your diet is the way to go.
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.
Stretch. Don't sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch the other way. "Because most of us spend a lot of time bending forward in our jobs, it's important to stand up and stretch backward throughout the day," Reicherter says. Don't forget to also stretch your legs. Some people find relief from their back pain by doing a regular stretching routine, like yoga.
Few people need surgery for back pain. If you have unrelenting pain associated with radiating leg pain or progressive muscle weakness caused by nerve compression, you might benefit from surgery. Otherwise, surgery usually is reserved for pain related to structural problems, such as narrowing of the spine (spinal stenosis) or a herniated disk, that hasn't responded to other therapy.
Topical anti-inflammatories work in the same way but, instead of having an effect on all of the body, they only work on the area to which you have applied them. When they are applied they are taken into (absorbed into) your skin. They then move deeper into areas of the body where there is inflammation (for example, your muscle). They relieve pain and reduce swelling affecting joints and muscles when rubbed into the skin over the affected area. Using a topical preparation means that the total amount of anti-inflammatory in your body is very low. This in turn means that you are much less likely to have a side-effect to this medicine.
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%. However, some newer, high-tech curcuminoid formulas have been shown to offer the same potency levels without the use of piperine.