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.
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.
Various studies have also shown that NSAIDs can delay muscle regeneration and may reduce ligament, tendon, and cartilage healing.[4,13,77] Specifically, NSAIDs are believed to wipe out the entire inflammatory mediated proliferative phase of healing associated with WBC actions (days 0–4). A study of the effects of NSAIDs on acute hamstring injuries was done in humans by Reynolds et al., and these investigators concluded that patients who used NSAIDs did not experience a greater reduction of pain and soft-tissue swelling when compared with the placebo group. Interestingly enough, the authors noted that the NSAIDs’ group had worse pain associated with severe injuries compared with the placebo group.
NSAIDs such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may cause swelling, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, smoke, or drink alcohol while using topical diclofenac. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors and if you have or have ever had ulcersor bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following medications: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); aspirin; other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); oral steroids such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Rayos); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Selfemra, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR). If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using topical diclofenac and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting a substance that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool,or black and tarry stools.
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.
NSAIDs have anti-inflammatory (reduce inflammation), analgesic (relieve pain) and antipyretic (lower temperature) effects. Although different NSAIDs have different structures, they all work by blocking cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes. There are two main types of COX enzymes: COX-1 and COX-2. Both types produce prostaglandins; however, the main function of COX-1 enzymes is to produce baseline levels of prostaglandins that activate platelets and protect the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, whereas COX-2 enzymes are responsible for releasing prostaglandins after infection or injury. Prostaglandins have a number of different effects, one of which is to regulate inflammation. Most NSAIDs inhibit both enzymes, although a few are available that mainly inhibit COX-2. The pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of NSAIDs are mainly due to inhibition of COX-2, and their unwanted side effects are largely due to inhibition of COX-1.
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.
If you’ve been suffering from pain, whether it is due to arthritis, migraines, or back pain, its time to get started finding relief today. Try out some of the herbal remedies listed above, and combine those with mind-body therapies that can help you gain control over your pain. Make sure to be getting good, regular sleep, which will also help in decreasing your pain levels. If you still don’t find relief, try infrared or ozone therapy treatments.
8. Capsaicin (Capsicum) – Found in hot chile peppers, this natural remedy does wonders for pain. Capsaicin, the active pain-reducing ingredient, temporarily desensitizes nerve receptors called C-fibers which cause the pain response. Capsaicin also diminishes soreness for 3 to 5 weeks while the C-fibers regain sensation. A single 60-min application in patients with neuropathic pain produced effective pain relief for up to 12 weeks. Patients at the New England Center for Headache decreased their migraine and cluster headache intensity by applying capsaicin cream to their nasal passages.
Massage: There's an upside to your discomfort: It's a legit excuse to get a weekly massage. One study found that people who did had less lower back pain and disability after 10 weeks, compared with the control group—and general relaxation rubdowns worked just as well as structural massage targeted at specific parts of the body. Osteopathic and chiropractic therapies—in which joints and muscles get stretched and repositioned—have been shown to work, too. In a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine
After an injury, first rest, ice the area, use compression, and elevate the area. The acronym to help you remember is RICE. Rest the area. Ice the area 4 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. If it looks better, compress the area with an Ace-type elastic bandage. To reduce swelling, ice helps, and so does elevating the area above your heart. When the swelling is down but you still have mild pain, apply a topical cream or gel according to the package directions. If it has worsened, consult your doctor.
Diclofenac sodium 1% gel (Voltaren, also available as a generic). When used for osteoarthritis pain of the hands, elbows or wrists, apply 2 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 8 grams per day). When used on knees, ankles, or feet, apply 4 grams to each affected area four times a day (a total of 16 grams per day). However, the total amount used on your body should not exceed 32 grams per day. A dosing card comes with the gel so you can measure the correct amount.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture may provide even more relief than painkillers, according to one 2013 review. In 11 studies of more than 1,100 people, this Chinese medicine staple improved symptoms of lower back pain better than simulated treatments and, yes, in some cases, NSAIDs. The needles appear to change the way your nerves react and may reduce inflammation around joints (which is only one of the therapy's benefits), says DeStefano.
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The NF-kB molecule is a transcription factor that controls the transcription of DNA for the perpetuation of the inflammatory immune response. It acts as a switch to turn inflammation on and off in the body. NF-kB has the ability to detect noxious stimuli, such as infectious agents, free radicals, and other cellular injuries, and then directs DNA to produce inflammatory cytokines. The NF-kB proteins are localized in the cytoplasm of the cell and are associated with a family of inhibitory proteins known as inhibitor of kB (IkB).[43,119] The TNF-α, and especially IL-1b, can also directly stimulate enzymes known as matrix metalloproteinases, which break down extracellular collagen matrix, a hallmark of inflammatory joint disease.[32,76,77] The IkB proteins are normally bound to NF-kB and block their nuclear localization signal. A variety of provoking stimuli can degrade the IkB and result in the nuclear translocation of NF-kB to be free to activate DNA synthesis of inflammatory cytokines [Figure 2].
Rannou F, Pelletier JP, Martel-Pelletier J. Efficacy and safety of topical NSAIDs in the management of osteoarthritis: Evidence from real-life setting trials and surveys. Semin Arthritis Rheum. 2016 Feb;45(4 Suppl):S18–21. PubMed #26806189. “Topical NSAIDs have a moderate effect on pain relief, with efficacy similar to that of oral NSAIDs, with the advantage of a better risk:benefit ratio. In real-life studies, topical and oral NSAIDs demonstrate an equivalent effect on knee pain over 1 year of treatment, with fewer adverse events due to lower systemic absorption of topical NSAIDs compared with oral NSAIDs.” BACK TO TEXT
"I have used your Arthritis Pain Relief Cream for a couple of years now, and I don’t know how I could do without it. I have arthritis in my back, arms, legs, and fingers. When I’m hurting, I apply the Cream, and the pain is gone in just a few minutes. I have referred this product to several friends and relatives. I also like your Intensive Night Repair Cream. I can’t live without it."
In summer 2018 I had my first personal experience with dramatic relief from Voltaren Gel (topical diclofenac). It’s not the first time I have found it useful, but it was the first time it was amazing. I’d been having some unexplained knee pain intermittently for several weeks when it kicked up a notch or two and became constant and even started waking me up at night. When I finally remembered to try Voltaren Gel — I’m not sure what took me so long — things were bad enough that it was going to be obvious if it worked. And it was! After many days of constant discomfort ranging from 3-6 on a 10-scale, it just ended: half an hour after applying the stuff, I simply didn’t have that problem anymore. Hallelujah! It’s been weeks since then with no relapse. Although the pain was not terrible, this is actually one of the clearest examples of pain relief from any treatment that I’ve ever enjoyed.
Capsaicin produces highly selective regional anesthesia by causing degeneration of capsaicin-sensitive nociceptive nerve endings which can produce significant and long-lasting increases in nociceptive thresholds. Capsaicin potently activates transient receptor potential vanilloid 1, which is a main receptor underlying nociception. It also inhibits NF-kB, thus producing an anti-inflammatory effect. Capsaicin can cause a burning sensation when it comes in contact with human flesh, and also in the digestive tract. This herb is rarely used alone but is generally mixed into other natural anti-arthritic preparations. There are topical capsaicin formulations now available to treat post-herpetic neuralgia. Other uses have been studied for peripheral neuropathies and chronic musculoskeletal pain.[15,20,35,55,58,88,110]
“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.
A 2015 Cochrane review of 61 studies involving nearly 8,400 people found that topical NSAIDs relieved pain from strains, sprains, and overuse injuries, but with less side effects than oral NSAIDs. Similarly, a 2006 review of four randomized trials found that topical diclofenac reduced knee pain due to osteoarthritis and was generally well tolerated.
Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.
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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are such effective pain killers that ibuprofen gel was originally only available on prescription. They are now widely available for self purchase and much better for your health than taking the same non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers by mouth. NSAID pain relieving gels do not cause the same level of side effects as the oral versions, such as indigestion and heartburn. You do need to follow the in-pack instructions, however, and take care not to apply too much. In some cases, overuse of ibuprofen gel can increase your blood pressure.
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.
The most common cause of anemia is not getting enough iron in your diet but luckily, iron deficiencies are treatable. With an iron supplement for anemia, you can build your body’s iron levels and raise its red blood cell production over time. Not only can it relieve short-term symptoms like dizziness or lethargy, but the right iron supplement can treat anemia and prevent your body from developing it in the future.
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
Pain is a leading cause of insomnia—difficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Approximately two-thirds of people with chronic back pain suffer from some type of sleep disorder. Paradoxically, inadequate sleep can make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it ineffective to treat just the pain. If you have sleep problems, you need to get the sleep problems addressed too.
Five updates have been logged for this article since publication (2009). All PainScience.com updates are logged to show a long term commitment to quality, accuracy, and currency. more Like good footnotes, update logging sets PainScience.com apart from most other health websites and blogs. It’s fine print, but important fine print, in the same spirit of transparency as the editing history available for Wikipedia pages.
Water, Menthol, MSM, Glycerin, Dipropylene Glycol, Celadrin, Camphor, Cetearyl Alcohol / Cetearyl Glucoside, Beeswax, Microcrystaline Wax, Butylglycerin, Kyounin Yu, Macadamia, Integrifolia Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate / PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Hyaluronic Acid, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Allantoin, Licorice Root Extract, Arginine, Carbomer, Lavender Oil, Peppermint Oil, Disodium EDTA, Polyacrylate-13/Polyisobutene / Plysorbate 20
If you are using a topical anti-inflammatory there is a risk that your skin can become sensitive to light (photosensitivity). If you are using a preparation that contains ketoprofen you should cover the area of skin where ketoprofen has been applied (to protect it from sunlight). Also, you should not use a sunbed, or expose your skin to sunlight during treatment, and for two weeks after stopping.
MSM is a potent sulfur naturally found in plants, animals and humans that helps rebuild the connective tissue in your joints and is a powerful natural remedy for inflammation and pain. What’s more, MSM has the unique ability to improve cell permeability. This allows harmful toxins to flow out, while allowing health boosting nutrients to flow in to feed your joints, cartilage and connective tissue. It is used for hundreds of symptoms related to a myriad of health diseases and conditions, and is especially effective as a natural remedy for relieving inflammation for improved joint function, and pain associated with joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and tendonitis. One study published in the Journal of AntiAging Medicine found that MSM provides an 80 percent greater reduction in pain compared to the placebo.
Diclofenac is an extremely popular drug — again, we’re talking oral here — and it is associated with serious cardiovascular risks: “There is increasing regulatory concern about diclofenac. … Diclofenac has no advantage in terms of gastrointestinal safety and it has a clear cardiovascular disadvantage.”14 This has been in the news quite a bit, and NPR had a hit in 2013 with this headline: “World's Most Popular Painkiller Raises Heart Attack Risk.”
Enjoy essential oils. Essential oils have long been valued for their analgesic effects in many cultures. There are many ways to benefit from essential oils—some people inhale them (aromatherapy), others include several drops in their massage oil and enjoy as part of a therapeutic massage. Several oils in particular are thought to have an analgesic effect, including peppermint oil, rosemary, and lavender.
Ingredients:Active ingredients (in cream): Belladonna 3X, Capsicum 3X, Colocynthis 3X, Gnaphalium Polycephalum 3X, Hypericum Perforatum 3X, Magnesia Phosphorica 3X, Rhus Tox 3X. Inactive ingredients Water, Polyacrylamide, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Capsicum Annuum Resin, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Oil, Laureth-7, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Folic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Salvia Officinalis (Sage) Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Foeniculum Vulgare (Fennel) Seed Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract, Rosa Canina Flower Extract, Ger anium Maculatum Extract.
11. Aquamin – Derived from red seaweed, aquamin is a powerful pain reducer, too. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, of 70 volunteers, Aquamin users reduced arthritis pain by 20% in a month and had less stiffness than patients taking a placebo. Helping to diminish inflammation and helps to build bone, aquamin is rich in both calcium and magnesium, too.
"I am a huge fan of Normatec recovery bags (starting at $1600; normatecrecovery.com) You put them on like sleeves and fill up with air while massaging the muscle. It is a game changer when it comes to helping with sore muscles. Not only does it help with soreness but helps flush lactic acids and improves circulation." —Chase Weber, celebrity personal trainer (Try his three-part total-body workout for strength, power, and stability.)
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.
Arnica montana is a flowering mountain herb with a long history of traditional use in pain relief. Arnica extracts contain numerous pain reliefing ingredients, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids which reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, plus thymol which fights infection. Arnica cream, gel and ointment is used to ease muscle pain and spasm, insect bites, superficial burns – including sunburn – sprains and painful joints caused by arthritis or other rheumatic disorders. Herbal arnica products contain measurable levels of active ingredients, while homeopathic arnica products contain lower levels that work in a different way. Research shows that arnica products are as effective at relieving painful joints as ibuprofen gel when applied two to four times a day.
Today, the most common conventional treatments for lower back pain relief are medications, including NSAIDS like aspirin and Tylenol, along with more potent prescription painkillers, such analgesics. These drugs can potentially cause adverse side effects in some patients and commonly don’t solve the underlying causes of lower back pain (such as poor posture, obesity or exercise-related strains). Some medications for back pains have even been tied to complications, such as liver damage or intestinal bleeding, when taken for long periods of time or in high doses.
Relief is the more natural alternative when compared with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), all of which note they may cause stomach or intestinal problems, such as bleeding and ulcers, and may increase the chance of heart attacks and strokes. Relief is a totally vegan product that contains no animal or animal derived ingredients, and has never been tested on animals.
Biofreeze presents this best pain relief cream, whose distinctiveness gets fortified by the factuality of Menthol (an organic analgesic agent) being present it its compositional fabric at a most concentrated quotient of 4%. The salve is an optimum elect of doctors, chiropractors and expert masseurs. The best pain relief cream is also preferred by professional trainers and athletes to heal sore muscles, cramped arms & legs and stiff tendons post exercise. On scheduled usage over lingering inflammations and joint & spinal aches, the 3oz density ointment is competent to render ‘Next Day’ effect. It belongs to the ‘Swift Action Long Lasting’ genre and is available in a roll-on pattern holder. The product scales to an extent of 8 x 4 x 6 inches.
Chondroitin sulphate is produced naturally in the body to promote the formation of healthy cartilage, tendons and ligaments, and it is also an important component of joint synovial fluid. As you get older, your joint cells secrete less and less chondroitin and this has been linked with reduced cartilage quality and the start of degenerative changes.
Although most cases of back pain are “uncomplicated” and should be able to heal with the treatments mentioned above, sometimes in severe cases other interventions are necessary. Speak to your doctor if you experience lower back pain that does not get better in a few days or weeks. If back pain starts suddenly, look out for other symptoms that may point to a more serious condition, such as a fever, chills, dizziness, numbness or unexplained weight loss.
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.