The benefits of heat therapy are twofold: it increases the flow of healing oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, and it suppresses pain signals. Some find that wearing a heat wrap, such as those from ThermaCare, is best because it releases a low level heat for several hours and can be worn under clothes so you can remain mobile. You can also combine the benefits of aromatherapy and a heat by adding an essential oil to the hot pack; you can experiment by making your own microwaveable heating pad at home and adding different essential oils to see what works best for you.
"I love to make my own home remedy to soothe sore muscles by adding 1-2 cups of Minera Dead Sea Salt ($42; sfsalt.com) and 5-8 drops of lavender essential oils to my bath. This combination draws out toxins, calms the parasympathetic system and helps aching muscles, while easing swelling and improving blood circulation. Afterwards, I'll apply some coconut oil to soothe dry skin.' —Nikki Warren, co-founder Kaia FIT
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.
Looking for a nonaddictive way to soothe aches? LifeSeasons’ award-winning Pain Bloc-R helps deliver the benefits of conventional approaches, including decreased aches and discomforts and increased relaxation, without the common pharmaceutical side effects. Pain Bloc-R combines natural ingredients and compounds, including Angelica dahurica, white willow bark, L-tetrahydropalmatine, and L-theanine, that work together to help support the body’s natural ability to relieve everyday aches.
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular arthritis creams on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different creams overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the creams themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
A study involving 172 people with osteoarthritis of the knee compared the use of a arnica gel with a prescribed, nonsteroidal anti-iflammatory gel (the NSAID piroxicam) with 1g of gel applied three times a day for 4 weeks. The results showed a pain reduction of 16.5 in the arnica gel group versus only 8.1 in the NSAID gel group and the researchers concluded that the Arnica gel was at least as effective and as well tolerated as the NSAID gel. A similar trial involving over 200 people with osteoarthritis of the hands showed that arnica gel was just as effective as an NSAID (ibuprofen) gel in reducing pain and improving hand function.
For short-term pain relief, over-the-counter pain relievers including acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are sometimes suggested. The most common NSAIDs include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve). Potential side effects of NSAIDs include stomach and liver problems. Talk to your doctor if you don't find relief after taking the recommended dose.
If you have an attack of lower-back pain that is severe, continuous and not improving, assessment and treatment by a health care professional who focuses on the back or other musculoskeletal problems may help. These practitioners may use both active and passive techniques to help you feel better. Examples of passive techniques that may be used to get you moving include:
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.
You probably wonder what are in the topical products, right? Menthol is cooling, capsaicin from chili pepper makes your skin feel warm. Methyl salicylate, from the oil of wintergreen, also gives you a feeling of warmth or heat. Eucalyptus is also cooling. These ingredients are known as counter-irritants causing the nerves to have a less intense sensation where blood circulation might increase at the area as the theory goes. We just do not know the exact method for working.
The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a natural pain reliever that’s also used in some OTC pain rubs. Rubbing a tiny amount of clove oil on your gums may temporarily ease toothache pain until you can get to a dentist. But too much undiluted clove oil may actually hurt your gums, so discuss this approach with your dentist before trying it at home.