The use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) medication is still the mainstay of most classically taught clinicians for joint and spine related inflammatory pain, despite their commonly known side effects [Table 1]. NSAID mechanisms are primarily through interaction with proinflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1a, IL-1b, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α). Increased concentrations of TNF-α are believed to cause the cardinal signs of inflammation to occur.[44]
Keep moving. "Our spines are like the rest of our body -- they're meant to move," says Reicherter. Keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog. Once you're feeling better, regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking can keep you -- and your back -- more mobile. Just don't overdo it. There's no need to run a marathon when your back is sore.
When anti-inflammatories are taken by mouth they work by blocking (inhibiting) the effect of chemicals (enzymes) called cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes. COX enzymes help to make other chemicals called prostaglandins. Some prostaglandins are involved in the production of pain and inflammation at sites of injury or damage. A reduction in prostaglandin production reduces pain and inflammation.
Chondroitin sulphate chains bind to hyaluronic acid to form ‘springy’ molecules that increase the strength and elasticity of cartilage, making it more resilient. Chondroitin also acts as a signal to inhibit the enzymes responsible for breaking down cartilage, and to increase the production of collagen. Chondroitin is therefore an ideal complement to glucosamine and the two are often combined in joint and muscle pain relief creams.
Any activity that gets your blood pumping for a sustained period will release pain-relieving endorphins into your system. The obvious problem is: How do you exercise if you're in too much pain to exercise? For many, the solution is to pick an exercise that is tolerable and start with help from a the right type of health professional, such as a physiatrist, chiropractor, or physical therapist.

Warnings: For external use only. Avoid contact with eyes, mucous membranes, and broken or irritated skin. In case of accidental contact, flush with water. Keep out of the reach of children. If irritation occurs, discontinue use immediately. Do not tightly wrap or bandage or use with other topical preparations or heating pads. Consult a doctor if you are pregnant/nursing, under 12 years old, have sensitive skin, your condition persists or worsens, or excessive burning or irritation persists.
Many pharmaceutical pain medications, while effective and useful at times, can be downright dangerous, but there is another solution to your pain problem. “Almost always, if we find pharmaceuticals doing the trick, we’ll find a plant doing the same trick—and doing it more safely,” remarks botanist James A. Duke, PhD, author of The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods.
Turmeric. This spice has been used to relieve arthritis pain and heartburn, and to reduce inflammation. It's unclear how turmeric works against pain or inflammation, but its activity may be due to a chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is usually safe to use, but high doses or long-term use may cause indigestion. Also, people with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric.
Inflammatory disorders specifically respond well to the natural collagen-containing gelatin that is found in true bone broth. (24) Bone broth and meat stock are different, since bone broth extracts nutrients from the bones, such as gelatin, minerals, and amino acids, whereas stock only contains nutrients from the meat. While both can be healthy, stock contains no pain-relieving properties.
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.
Topical treatments: One potential concern with dietary supplements is that some may interfere with medications you’ve been prescribed to treat back pain or other health conditions. For this reason, Grossman suggests topical treatments: “Gels and creams can be very helpful and won't interfere with supplements or medications,” she explains. “They're generally inexpensive, too.”
Customers say that while they were skeptical at first, they are pleasantly surprised by just how well this lotion from Two Old Goats works to relieve arthritis pain. Its name come from its key ingredient—goat’s milk—which is blended with essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and eucalyptus in a formula designed to penetrate deep into your joints and muscles. All those oils also act as a moisturizer so it keeps your skin looking great too, and the pump bottle makes it easy to dispense.
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)
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.
A warming cream from Sombra with a pleasant orange scent. Good for the relief of pain related to inflammation. It doesn't contain any artificial fragrances or dyes. Also suitable for muscle pain and aches. Sombra also sells a cooling gel and different packaging formats for various uses. The gel is also free of animal ingredients so vegans can happily use it when they experience joint or muscle pain. This gel uses a warming sensation to help alleviate pain and inflammation. Users should take care to wash their hands after application to avoid getting it in their eyes or around the eye area.
"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."
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’m not saying NSAIDs are useless. They have their place. If you’re recovering from surgery or a major injury, traditional over-the-counter pain relievers are good for controlling inflammation, swelling, and pain, but NSAIDs are far too powerful for over-the-counter, everyday use. Unlike a lot of natural pain relievers, NSAIDs also don’t address the cause of inflammation or pain; they just mask the symptoms.
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