For centuries, natural anti-inflammatory compounds have been used to mediate the inflammatory process and often with fewer side effects. We have briefly reviewed several of the most commonly used plant- and animal-derived natural compounds that may possess similar effectiveness in treating the inflammatory reaction seen in both chronic and sub-acute pain syndromes encountered in a typical neurosurgical practice. Ongoing experiments and clinical trials should be continued to guide and provide their scientifically based effectiveness to reduce inflammation and promote wellness.
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.
I use my Rogue Fitness Supernova ($40; roguefitness.com) for self-myofascial release (SMR). By applying pressure directly to sore muscles with my supernova, I am able to roll out knots (or adhesions) on the muscle. This allows the body to bring blood flow to troubled areas by transporting nutrients and oxygen to the muscles for faster repair." — Troy Brooks, YG Studios and founder TB Elite Fitness
As part of your exercise routine, you may want to consider doing yoga regularly for lower back pain relief. One study of over 960 people with low back pain found that those who completed a 12-week yoga program experienced greater improvements in back function and reduced pain compared to controls who did not participate. (4) There’s even evidence that mindfulness meditation, often practiced in some form with yoga, can also help people deal with chronic back pain more effectively. (5)
An ayurvedic spice known to tame arthritis pain, the curry spice turmeric contains an antioxidant compound called curcumin. In an animal-based study published in 2007, scientists discovered that curcumin can overpower pro-inflammatory proteins called cytokines. The compound may also help decrease pain associated with autoimmune disorders and tendonitis.
Plant- and animal-derived nutraceutical preparations have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years to obtain effective pain relief. Herbal medications are becoming increasingly popular because of their relatively few side effects. Nevertheless, there are problems associated with these dietary supplements, and their use requires knowledge of their biological action, clinical studies (both affirmative and negative), and potential interactions with other nutraceutical products and prescription medications.
Staying in bed for any prolonged period can make you stiff and increase pain. When you don’t move and bend, you lose muscle strength and flexibility. With bed rest, you lose about 1 percent of your muscle strength each day. And you can lose 20 to 30 percent in a week. It becomes more difficult to return to any activity. As you become weaker and stiffer your recovery takes longer.
10. Cherries – Due to the presence of compounds called anthocyanins—the same phytonutrients that give cherries their rich ruby hue – you can count on cherries to tamp down pain. Muraleedharan Nair, PhD, says, “They block inflammation and they inhibit pain enzymes, just like aspirin, naproxen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories.” Cherries are said to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food, making them great for remedying issues such as arthritis.
Many readers assume that “skeptics” will always favour mainstream and pharmaceutical treatments like Voltaren, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, some skeptics are leading the charge against bad pharmaceutical industry science and practices (and a great example is Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients). Pharmacist Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy was certainly skeptical about topical NSAIDs like Voltaren when he first tackled the topic early in 2011.13 “When I recently noticed a topical NSAID appear for sale as an over-the-counter treatment for muscle aches and pains … I was confident it would make a good case study in bad science.”
Synovial fluid is a thick, slippery substance with a consistency similar to egg white. It acts like an oil and fills small cavities within the joint cartilage, providing oxygen and nutrients when the joint is resting. Synovial fluid also pushes the bones apart so they don’t rub together to cause pain. Glucosamine also provides building blocks for making new cartilage, and repairing damaged areas. Glucosamine is also known to damp down inflammation and act as a biological signal to stimulate tissue repair.
Many individuals perceive surgery as the best modality for their health issues and sometimes it is. However, research has indicated that nerve damage unavoidably produced during a surgical operation will cause chronic pain in 15 – 50% of patients (3). Other individuals are severely damaged by treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation that cause states of increased inflammation and pain.
Warning: The gel is for external use only. It is flammable therefore keep it away from heat or open flames. Check with your healthcare provider before using it if you have sensitive skin are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not put it near your eyes or mucous membranes or apply to wounds, sores, scratched or imperfect skin. Do not use this product with other creams, sprays, liniments, or ointments. Never put a bandage over the area. Stop using if your skin becomes red, has a rash, or feels irritated. Never use with a heating pad on top of the area and always wash your hands after using. Contact your doctor if problems continue after use. Consult your pediatrician if your child is under 2-years-old. Keep out of the reach of children.
Bromelian is a mix of proteolytic enzymes (those found in pineapples), which have been used for centuries to help indigestion and reduce inflammation. Studies indicate this product helps reduce pain associated with arthritis, especially when used in combination with some other natural pain-relieving agents making it a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
How it works: A misaligned spine can cause muscle tension (read: pain). Both physical therapy and chiropractic treatment improve spinal alignment. Physical therapists strategically stretch and strengthen the muscles that help hold the spine in place. Chiropractors manipulate the spine to relieve areas of tension on the muscles. Consult your primary-care doctor for a referral.
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The NSAIDs are also known to have adverse effects on kidney function. Dehydration or preexisting chronic renal failure or disease, resulting in stimulation of the renin–angiotensin system, may predispose certain populations to acute renal failure through inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis, which can occur when taking NSAIDs. The National Kidney Foundation asserts that approximately 10% of kidney failures per year are directly correlated to substantial overuse of NSAIDs.
Digging a metal tool into a painful spot, such as the bottom of your foot if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, sounds like some sort of medieval torture practice. The Graston technique is an instrument-aided manual therapy that serves as a noninvasive way to deal with soft tissue ailments like achilles tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, shin splints, back and shoulder pain, and other ailments. It’s even been proven to help relieve pain associated with chronic conditions like trigger finger and post-surgery pain in a way that can reduce the amount of painkillers administered.
“For years I have suffered with sciatica pain going down my right side. It is so painful that even sitting hurts. Nothing has ever worked well. I tried your patches by putting 3 discs on the painful area. For 3 days, I was pain free. As you suggested, I replaced the patches with new ones after 3 days and it no longer hurts. I also used it on my shoulder after a fall. It works! Thank you for helping me find relief.” – Norma M.
The first is that inflammation-lowering NSAIDs destroy your gut lining. Check the bottle of ibuprofen or aspirin in your medicine cabinet. You’ll see it right on the label: “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach and/or intestine.” Long-term low-dose aspirin use is particularly likely to cause ulcers and tear holes in your intestine.