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.
Topical diclofenac gel (Voltarol) is highly effective for treating muscle and joint aches and pains. In fact, a direct comparison of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory diclofenac gel with an oral equivalent did not show any difference in their ability to reduce pain and stiffness. Data from 34 studies, involving over 7,600 people, suggests that the topical NSAID, diclofenac, is the most effective form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkiller for applying to the skin to treat muscle and joint pain.
Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis are Peruvian herbs derived from woody vines with small claw-like thorns (hence the vernacular name, cat’s claw) at the base of the leaf, which allow the plant to climb to heights of up to 100 ft. Traditionally, the bark of cat’s claw is used to treat arthritis, bursitis, and intestinal disorders. The active ingredients appear to be polyphenols (flavonoids, proanthocyanidins, and tannins), alkaloids, and sterols. Various studies indicate that this Peruvian herb induces a generalized reduction in proinflammatory mediators.
As I write in this month’s Harvard Men’s Health Watch, these so-called topical analgesics work best for more superficial joints like the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, and hands. “In those areas, the medication can penetrate closer to the joint,” says Dr. Rosalyn Nguyen, a clinical instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
When you think of a needle poking into your skin, the last thing you probably think about is natural pain relief. The truth is, though, that dry needling works by stimulating trigger points to reduce pain or disability. A 2007 study found dry needling significantly reduced shoulder pain by targeting a trigger point. Dry needling can also help deal with trigger points that reduce a person’s range of motion, which can lead to serious pain and musculoskeletal side effects.
Spreading a medication on your skin is not the same thing as swallowing it. Because Voltaren Gel is applied to the skin, dramatically less medication reaches the bloodstream — only a tiny fraction of what you would get from oral usage.1516 It is safe to assume that cardiovascular risks of moderate topical use are negligible compared to oral diclofenac, because so much less medication is actually getting into general circulation, and that is what the evidence now shows.17 Multiple studies have concluded that topical NSAIDs are both effective and safe.181920
Alternate warm and cold. Try alternating soaks in warm and cold water, especially if you have swelling. Fill one sink with cold water (65 degrees Fahrenheit) and another with warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit). Leave your hands or feet in the warm water for five to 10 minutes, and then switch to cold for one minute. Return to the warm for three to four minutes, and then switch to cold for another minute. Repeat this four or five times.
Capsaicin creams are another topical option for pain relief. These contain the active component in chili peppers that cause a burning sensation. I know its sounds like this would cause more pain, but in fact the low levels of capsaicin in these creams block pain by temporarily depleting the nerves of certain chemicals that transmit pain impulses. Application of this cream three times daily was shown to significantly improve pain scores for fibromyalgia in one study done in Spain.
Most of the active research with resveratrol has been done in neuro and cardioprotection, but several studies are being reported on resveratrol’s use for arthritic joint pain. Elmali et al, reported in 2007 using animals that intra-articular injection of resveratrol protects cartilage and reduces the inflammatory reaction in simulated knee osteoarthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of resveratrol have also been observed in experimental animal models with paw edema, which is attributed to suppression of inflammatory prostaglandin synthesis.[29] Resveratrol is also a potent and specific inhibitor of TNF-α- and IL-1b-induced NF-kB activation. Resveratrol shows the anti-inflammatory properties as it suppresses COX-2 by blocking NF-kB activation.

Keep moving. "Our spines are like the rest of our body -- they're meant to move," says Reicherter. Keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog. Once you're feeling better, regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking can keep you -- and your back -- more mobile. Just don't overdo it. There's no need to run a marathon when your back is sore.


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.”
7. White Willow Bark (Salix alba) –  The active ingredient in white willow is salicin, which the body converts into salicylic acid. This tree’s covering lowers the body’s levels of prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that can cause aches, pain, and inflammation. What’s more, white willow bark doesn’t upset the stomach or cause internal bleeding like many over-the-counter aspirins. Turn to this herb for relief from menstrual cramps, muscle pains, arthritis, or after knee or hip surgery as it promotes blood flow and reduces swelling.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) machines are small, battery-powered devices that transmit low-voltage electrical currents through electrodes that are attached to your skin. Considered very safe, TENS machines, according to one theory, work by scrambling the message of pain to the brain — literally blocking it. Another theory suggests that the electrical impulses cause a release of endorphins that override the sensation of pain. Many back pain patients have had success with TENS machines, though their effectiveness has not been clearly proven in controlled studies. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if this therapy might be right for you.
Even though you might need something for your pain or a product that would help minimize inflammations of any kind, the cream that you buy should come with greater convenience. The creams that have a no greasy feeling quality when used would be the ultimate choice you could ever make if you desire a medication that would be more comfortable and effective at the same time. The creams with no greasy feeling would mean that you would never stain your clothes with the ointment and most of all; you would be able to tackle the minor injuries you may be subjected to at different times in your life. If you are not sure of what to buy, make sure that you consult with your friends or family members who may have used some of these products at different times in their lives. If not, ensure that you talk to your doctor on the same issue since the physicians are more than capable of providing individuals with the best advice regarding the anti-inflammatory creams that would work better with no side effects whatsoever. With everything considered, what is important is acquiring a cream that is viable, reasonably priced, safe to use, and able to provide you with fast pain relief.

These proinflammatory cytokines result in chemoattractant for neutrophils and help them to stick to the endothelial cells for migration. They also stimulate white cell phagocytosis and the production of inflammatory lipid prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). NSAIDs’ ability to interfere with the production of prostaglandin during the inflammatory cascade is the major mechanism cited for the anti-inflammatory success of these medications [Figure 1].[112]


Thank you for providing a list with creams that aren’t simply analgesic! Most lists are just full of creams that provide analgesic properties by blocking pain receptors. It doesn’t really help your body repair from damage or strain. I use a cell-regenerative, anti-inflammatory cream with analgesics and its completely natural. It has the MSM and Arnica. I apply it before I work out and after to help nurture and heal my muscles & joints as well provide pain relief. This way I recover faster and get into the gym quicker knowing my body is supported and I am not just exasperating a problem.
Turmeric can be consumed in a variety of forms, including as a spice added to foods or drinks and encapsulated for those who are not tolerant of the signature spicy taste. Two to three teaspoons of turmeric daily can help to provide therapeutic levels of relief and preventive benefits with little side effects. Note: Turmeric absorbs best when taken in combination with black pepper (approximately 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper for every 1 teaspoon of turmeric). (17)

Hallie Levine is an award-winning magazine and freelance writer who contributes to Consumer Reports on health and fitness topics. Her work has been published in Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and Parents, among others. She's a mom to three kids and a fat but feisty black Labrador Retriever named Ivry. In her (nonexistent) spare time, she likes to read, swim, and run marathons.
Jackson, M., & Tummon Simmons, L. (2018, April 1). Challenging case in clinical practice: Improvement in chronic osteoarthritis pain with use of arnica oil massage, therapeutic ultrasound, and acupuncture — A case report [Abstract]. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 24(2), 60–62. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2018.29152.mja?journalCode=act
Whether you’re a runner looking for a quick solution to cure your muscle soreness or someone with chronic pain, a topical pain gel or cream is a great temporary relief option. These excellent products work very well and have given many runners relief from pain during the recovery process from various types of injuries. Bringing quick relief to sore or aching muscles requires a cream or gel which has the ability to be quickly absorbed and reaches deep into your tissue to help muscle pain.

According to recommendations of the Arthritis Foundation, when treating conditions related to arthritis it is best to use “fish oil capsules with at least 30 percent EPA/ DHA, the active ingredients. For lupus and psoriasis, 2 grams EPA/DHA three times a day. For Raynaud’s phenomenon, 1 grams four times a day. For rheumatoid arthritis, up to 2.6 grams fish oil (1.6 grams EPA) twice a day.”
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.
Learning to keep your cool is as good for your back as it is for your mental health. When you're anxious, your body sets off the "fight or flight" response, which involves tensing your muscles so you're ready to spring into action. One European study revealed that people prone to negative thoughts and anxiety are more likely to suffer from back pain. Get calm now with these stress-busting solutions.
Feverfew. Feverfew has been used for centuries to treat headaches, stomachaches, and toothaches. Nowadays it's also used for migraines and rheumatoid arthritis. More studies are required to confirm whether feverfew is actually effective, but the herb may be worth trying since it hasn't been associated with serious side effects. Mild side effects include canker sores and irritation of the tongue and lips. Pregnant women should avoid this remedy.
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