Green tea research now demonstrates both anti-inflammatory and chondroprotective effects. Additionally, green tea research includes the “Asian paradox”, which theorizes that increased green tea consumption in Asia may lead to significant cardiovascular, neuroprotective and cancer prevention properties. The usual recommendation is 3–4 cups of tea a day. Green tea extract has a typical dosage of 300–400 mg. Green tea can cause stomach irritation in some, and because of its caffeine content, a decaffeinated variety is also available; but the polyphenol content is currently unknown.[2,49,53,108,112,117,120]
Because of the significant side effect profiles of steroidal and NSAID medications, there is a greater interest in natural compounds, such as dietary supplement and herbal remedies, which have been used for centuries to reduce pain and inflammation. Many of these natural compounds also work by inhibiting the inflammatory pathways in a similar manner as NSAIDs. In addition to the COX pathway, many natural compounds act to inhibit nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) inflammatory pathways.
Wasabi is another spicy food with natural painkilling properties. Scientists are studying the isothiocyanates in wasabi as potential pain relievers. Researcher from University of California San Francisco made a recent discovery suggesting that isothiocyanates could block an inflammation receptor, making it a potentially important natural painkiller. (2)
The most often neglected method to control inflammation that I see in my patients is rest. Not only does this mean resting from athletics, but often this means allowing an injured body part to rest from normal activities which may prolong inflammation. We live busy lives that may not allow for rest, but ignoring the signs of inflammation may prolong the problem. Therefore, look for ways to rest your injured body part to allow the inflammation to subside and the recovery process to unfold.
My doctor reddened and paniced a bit when he took my B/P and blamed it on the tablets which I rarely took, but the gel had been increased due to a worsening scoliosis and and a damaged knee getting worse with age. Recent research states clearly that this is a serious side effect, and it was not just a small rise but one of 25-30 points on my normal B/P!!! It can also cause hardening of the arteries and eventually a heart attack.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
One concern about the use of products like Voltaren is that several conditions are less inflammatory in nature than they feel like. Patients usually assume that the “burning” pain of repetitive strain injuries like tendinitis is caused by inflammation, but in fact classic inflammation is largely absent, especially after initial flare-ups have died down (but pain is still carrying on). While it is possible, even likely, that tendinitis is still inflamed in some sense, it’s doubtful that they are inflamed in a way that NSAIDs are actually good for. The biochemistry of cranky tendons is rather complex and largely unknown. There’s probably some overlap between the biology of acute, classic inflammation and the subtler biology of chronic tendinitis, but no one really knows. So the value of Voltaren for tendinitis is unclear.
Stay strong. Once your low back pain has receded, you can help avert future episodes of back pain by working the muscles that support your lower back, including the back extensor muscles. "They help you maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine," Reicherter says. Having strong hip, pelvic, and abdominal muscles also gives you more back support. Avoid abdominal crunches, because they can actually put more strain on your back.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, a psychotherapist helps you identify problematic behaviors (like becoming less active or doing fewer fun activities in response to pain), negative thoughts (about self, others and the future) and feelings (depression, guilt, anxiety). This can increase your awareness of how problematic patterns develop and help you understand the connection between thought patterns and feelings. You are then trained in pain coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, imagery, and goal setting, encouraging you to have an active role in managing and controlling pain. CBT can increase your ability to control pain while acknowledging that there may be occasionally flares beyond your control.
Stay well hydrated. It is common knowledge that drinking enough water throughout the day is good for you, but did you know it can also help reduce pain? For people with back conditions, staying well hydrated helps the intervertebral discs stay healthy. Drinking enough water also helps reduce stiffness, it helps your blood carry healing nutrients and oxygen throughout the structures of you body, and helps flush toxins out of your muscles and other soft tissues. It will help prevent constipation (a side affect of many pain medications).
Menthol, Levomenthol, Eucalyptus, Camphor and Oil of Wintergreen are often added to topical joint treatments. These essential oils are absorbed into the skin and stimulate skin receptors to produce either a warm sensation or a cooling sensation as they numb the pain. They work by overwhelming nerve endings with these sensations so pain messages do not get passed on. This is known as a counter-irritant effect. Wintergreen is also a rich source of methyl salicylate, a natural anti-inflammatory painkiller related to aspirin. These essential oil creams and gels tend to have names such as Deep Heat or Deep Freeze to describe how they feel during use.
China, Korea and Japan grow a vine known as Thunder God, which is one of the powerful natural relievers of arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis. It has properties that regulate the immune system and naturally reduce inflammation, thus being good for autoimmune diseases. One clinical trial carried out at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that roughly 80 percent of those patients who were given a high dose of the plant supplement found that their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms got better considerably making it well worth a try for those looking for natural remedies for inflammation and pain.
A study involving 120 people with acute upper or lower back pain showed that rubbing in comfrey cream, three times a day for 4 to 6 days, reduced pain intensity by 95%, compared with just 38% reduction for inactive ‘placebo’ cream. Comfrey works quickly, providing good pain relief within an hour of application. In fact, researchers have found that comfrey cream is more effective than a prescribed, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment (diclofenac gel) for treating ankle sprains.
A type of enzyme extracted from pineapple stems, bromelain reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions associated with musculoskeletal tension (such as TMJ syndrome), as well as those suffering trauma-related inflammation. What's more, the enzyme may promote healing in muscles and connective tissues.