Warming tissues eases arthritis pain by increasing blood flow to affected areas, which decreases inflammation, relaxes tight muscles, and eliminates waste products, like lactic acid, that cause stiffness and soreness. Cold decreases blood flow to reduce swelling, slows the transmission of pain signals through nerves, and inhibits inflammatory chemicals. Cold therapy is best for pain and swelling after exercise, during a flare, or in the first 48 to 72 hours after an injury. Here are some ways to soothe joint pain with heat and cold at home:
In a 2011 research review published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia, investigators looked at the available research on the use of topically applied capsaicin in the treatment of several types of chronic pain. This included two clinical trials examining back pain, both of which found that capsaicin helped reduce low back pain without causing notable side effects.
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.
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.
Traditional wisdom says that NSAID pain relievers only damage your gut lining if you take them every day for a long time, but recent research disagrees. High-level athletes with stress-related intestinal damage tried taking ibuprofen to improve muscle soreness and recovery. Ibuprofen ended up damaging their gut lining even further after just a couple weeks; it increased inflammation and made their original pain issues worse. In fact, a single dose of aspirin can significantly increase your intestinal permeability.