The evaluation of nutraceutical preparations with appropriately designed controlled studies has exploded in recent years. There is now a greater degree of confidence based on controlled study design and improved quality of the investigators that has strengthened positive findings found using natural compounds to treat diseases. It is important for healthcare practitioners to learn about these scientific studies to counsel patients who are taking various dietary supplements, herbs minerals and vitamins for both disease treatment and prevention.
If you suffer from arthritis or other types of pain, you're probably all too familiar with drugs such as aspirin, Aleve, and Naproxen. All belong to a class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and all can be purchased without a prescription. But there is another related drug, available by prescription, you might want to talk with your doctor about: diclofenac, available as a gel, patch, or drop that you apply directly to your skin.
Medications are not the only solution to control inflammation and discomfort. As we become increasingly aware and sensitive the possible side-effects of any medication, more patients and doctors alike are interested in non-pharmacologic methods to control inflammation. There are many ways that people address inflammation. Some have better scientific support than others, but most all are safe to try.
Almost every person with fibromyalgia describes their muscles as tight and full of painful muscle knots called trigger points. After I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia during medical school, I tried many different styles of massage, but got no benefit until I found a specialized technique called myofascial release pioneered by John Barnes, PT. This form of massage therapy involves using very slow but sustained gentle pressure to separate tiny adhesions in the muscle tissue and fascia, and this lessens muscle tension and gently breaks up knots in the connective tissue (to learn more about the vital importance of fascia in fibromyalgia, read my previous blog post). Two European studies found that myofascial release therapy was effective for reducing fibromyalgia pain, and that it gave long-lasting pain relief even at one month and six months after the last session. To find a John Barnes-trained therapist skilled in this technique go to www.mfrtherapists.com.
Green tea has long been recognized to have cardiovascular and cancer preventative characteristics due to its antioxidant properties. Its use in the treatment of arthritic disease as an anti-inflammatory agent has been recognized more recently. The constituents of green tea are polyphenolic compounds called catechins, and epigallocatechin-3 galate is the most abundant catechin in green tea.
Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), might relieve acute back pain. Take these medications only as directed by your doctor. Overuse can cause serious side effects. If OTC pain relievers don't relieve your pain, your doctor might suggest prescription NSAIDs.
Physical activity. Exercise helps build strong, flexible muscles that will be less prone to injury. It can also help the healing process for an aching back, prevent problems in the future, and improve function. Work with your doctor to develop an exercise program, or seek a referral to another health professional who can. A good program typically includes the three major forms of exercise: aerobic activity, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
For a blast of cool pain relief, Biofreeze has been a go-to for arthritis sufferers for decades. Made with 4 percent menthol, this gel promises immediate relief from pain that’s long-lasting. It has a light green color, so you can see where you’re applying it, but it also comes in a colorless version as well. Both versions are greaseless and have a scent that’s designed to disappear after application.
NSAIDs don’t just damage your gut lining. They affect your gut bacteria, too. A study of regular users found that different NSAIDs caused different changes in gut bacteria. Ibuprofen and arthritis drug celecoxib (Celebrex), for example, increased pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae, a family of bacteria that includes E. coli, Salmonella, and a number of lesser-known bacteria that contribute to eye, skin, respiratory, and urinary tract infections.