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

"I am a true believer in Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). My football coach introduced me to it years ago. It's a topical cooling pain reliever that works very similarly to ice but since it's a gel, I can apply it before teaching classes and training clients to keep function in my muscles and joints. In addition to relieving muscle pain or soreness, it can be used to help arthritis and other muscular and joint discomforts too. " —Mat Forzaglia, The Fhitting Room instructor
Although it is normal to experience some pain and soreness when running or while engaging in similarly intense forms of physical activity, pain that persists long after you exercise is usually indicative of a greater problem. Be sure to consult with a medical professional before turning to any topical creams and gels; they can help you diagnose the source of your pain and may recommend alternate treatment options.
If you’re someone who experiences muscle and joint pain from time to time (or on a regular basis), you’ve probably tried quite a few options for pain relief. And you’re probably already using external pain relievers—the kind you apply directly to your skin for fast relief from sore muscles and joints. But have you thought of adding an external pain relief cream to the mix?
Aloe barbadensis (organic aloe) leaf juice, Limnanthes alba (meadow foam) seed oil, mentha arvensis (menthol), capsicum (capsicum annuum) oleoresin, cinnamomum camphora (white camphor) essential oil, ocimum basilicum (sweet basil) essential oil, piper nigrum (black pepper) essential oil, anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile) flower essential oil, chamomilla recutita (German chamomile) flower essential oil, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) leaf essential oil, cymbopogon winterianus (citronella) essential oil, eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus) leaf essential oil, helichrysum italicum (helichrysum) essential oil, zingiber officinale (ginger) root essential oil, citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit) essential oil, juniper communis (juniper) berry essential oil, cymbopogon flexuous (lemongrass) essential oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) essential oil, pinus sylvestris (pine) needle essential oil, ravensara aromatica (ravensara) essential oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf essential oil, mentha spicata (spearmint) essential oil, origanum vulgare (wild oregano) essential oil, glycerin, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), water, alcohol, phenoxyethanol, carbomertriethanolamine (TEA), and tetrasodium (EDTA)
SAMe is one of the natural chemicals made within the body that science has been able to duplicate in a lab, and make into a supplement. Studies have shown SAMe supplementation to be comparable to the pain-relieving effects of Celebrex by the second month of taking the product, without the side effects. The SAMe chemical has a role in pain, depression, liver disease and has been shown effective when used for relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, bursitis, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), migraine headache, depression and more, making it a great natural remedy for inflammation.

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.
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.
The first generic (cheaper) equivalent of Voltaren® Gel entered the marketplace in 2016, produced by Amneal Pharmaceutical. It should be widely available now. Both products are still prescription-only in the US, but fortunately they are over-the-counter almost everywhere else (there’s a rack of tubes of Voltaren by the till at my neighbhourhood drugstore).
Comfrey root has a long history of traditional use to heal wounds and fractures when applied as a poultice, and was commonly known as ‘knit bone’. Modern research shows that comfrey contains two main active ingredients: allantoin which promotes tissue regeneration, and rosmarinic acid which damps down inflammation and reduces pain. Comfrey root cream is a popular and effective treatment for joint pain, sprains and strains.
Diclofenac topical gel (Voltaren) is used to relieve pain from osteoarthritis (arthritis caused by a breakdown of the lining of the joints) in certain joints such as those of the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, wrists, and hands. Diclofenac topical liquid (Pennsaid) is used to relieve osteoarthritis pain in the knees. Diclofenac is in a class of medications called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It works by stopping the body's production of a substance that causes pain.
I’m often asked which is the strongest ibuprofen gel. If you’re looking for the best muscle pain relief, however, I recommend diclofenac gel rather than ibuprofen gel. Research shows that diclofenac gel (Voltarol) is stronger and more effective than even a strong ibuprofen gel. If you still prefer to use an ibuprofen gel, however, you can find them on Boots.com.
You never want to put a heating pad on top of the topical product after it’s on your skin. It can cause skin irritation and possible burns. If you apply a lotion or gel having methyl salicylate, do not start exercising. Your body can absorb too much of it from your increased blood circulation and that’s not good. Do not put on areas such as broken skin, rashes, dermatitis, eczema, or irritated area. Pregnant and breastfeed women should not use topical pain relievers without consulting their doctor. Babies should not use these products, nor young children.
No, the lower back pain isn't in your head. But what is in your head could be making it worse. "Fear, anxiety, and catastrophizing can amplify pain," says Mackey. "People often get swept up in thoughts like This will never get better." Because brain circuits that process pain overlap dramatically with circuits involved with emotions, panic can translate into actual pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you recognize and reframe negative thoughts. Deep breathing can help, too, as can simply shining a light on dark thoughts. "Start by accepting that you have pain," Mackey says. "Then say to yourself, It will get better."
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms carefully and will probably take your blood pressure and order certain tests to check your body's response to topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren). Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling so that the doctor can prescribe the right amount of medication to treat your condition with the lowest risk of serious side effects.
"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
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.

These creams can be quite effective for temporary pain relief on the muscle and joints. The creams would also come in handy when handling inflammations that may be brought forth by minor injuries, sunburn, skin rash and other severe conditions. Although doctors would prescribe most of these creams for their patients, more often than not individuals go for the OTC medications to deal with simple medical conditions. When making your purchase for this particular product it is important that you make a comparison between active ingredients and the inactive ingredients used in the formulation of the cream. At the end of the day, ensure that you choose a product that would not have dire side effects on your health. The cream you choose should help you deal with your particular problem in the best way possible and if possible you should make sure that you consult with your doctor before using any of these creams.
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.

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


Lower back pain can be mild to very severe depending on its underlying causes, how long it’s been left untreated and the state of someone’s overall health. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that several important risk factors for lower back problems include family history of back pain, smoking or using tobacco, being overweight or obese, being female, being anxious or depressed, and either doing too much physical work or living a sedentary lifestyle.
ASU is a vegetable extract made from the oil of avocados and soybeans that is said to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. It slows down the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body and thus the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. It has also been found to spur new cartilage cell growth. It is available in capsule form at a recommended 300 mg daily.
Creams derived from natural products can also provide local relief for painful muscles in fibromyalgia. The best part is that topical treatments tend to be very well tolerated with few side effects. Arnica is an herb used since the 1500s to treat bruises, muscle pain, and inflammation. It is still used today as a natural treatment for muscle pain in many different topical remedies. One herbal homeopathic cream that I have found helpful is MyPainAway Fibro cream. It includes arnica to reduce muscle pain, echinacea to reduce inflammation, along with other herbs targeted to reduce nerve pain by improving microcirculation around pain-sensing nerves.
Many patients have told me they find celadrin cream effective for rapid relief of painful joints. It appears to work best when you apply it all around the joint – for example in a continuous band around the front, sides and back of a knee. One patient, who had two arthritic knees, told me he performed a personal experiment in which he applied celadrin cream around one knee but not the other. He was amazed at the difference in the treated knee which, within hours, became less painful and more mobile. Needless to say, he soon started applying it to both knees!
Get enough restorative sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to managing pain and promoting healing, so it's important to employ a variety of sleep aids to help you get a healthy amount of sleep. Regular exercise that physically exhausts the body helps promote deep sleep. Visualization, meditation, and other psychological techniques can also help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
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.”
The active ingredients in fish oil, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), enhance the conversion of COX to prostaglandin E3. A natural anti-inflammatory agent, prostaglandin E3 competitively inhibits the effects of the arachidonic acid conversion to prostaglandin E2, a highly inflammatory substance. Prostaglandin E3 also inhibits the synthesis of TNF-α and IL-1b, both of which are inflammatory cytokines. The EPA and DHA can inhibit the 5-LOX pathway, which converts arachidonic acid to inflammatory leukotrienes, by competitive inhibition as well. When EPA and DHA are incorporated into articular cartridge chondrocyte cell membranes, there is a dose-dependent decrease in the expression and activity of the proteoglycan-degrading aggrecanase enzymes.[12,23–25,27,50,85]

While most people are only looking to relieve the immediate symptoms of the pain, this will only provide temporary relief.  Addressing the underlying mental/emotional, chemical and physical stressors that are causing the chronic inflammation and pain is the ultimate goal.  This process takes time and deep introspection along with trusted holistic health care providers.


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.
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