Soft tissue therapies help treat the underlying causes of back pain, such as poor posture, muscular compensations, and weakness through manipulative, hands-on adjustments. These natural therapies can help “turn on” muscles that have been “turned off” due to past injuries and therefore eliminate added stress on painful parts of the back or legs. I recommend finding a practitioner who offers one of the following:

Not as popular as many other essential oils, arnica oil belongs in every medicine cabinet. Considered generally safe for topical use, arnica oil used on the skin helps ease inflammatory pain associated with insect bites, bruises and even arthritis flare-ups. (5, 6) To treat bruises, applying arnica oil twice daily (as long as the skin is not broken) helps reduce bruising inflammation even better than low-concentration vitamin K formulations. (3)
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.
Glucosamine is one of the most-studied supplements around the world for relief of arthritis symptoms and joint health. Sulfur is produced naturally in the body and is an essential component to joint health. Glucosamine sulfate is a type of glucosamine that is most useful in the support of joint mobility and pain relief because it absorbs well. Conversely, glucosamine chondroitin does not absorb in an amount significant enough to create enough of a change to make taking it worthwhile. Glucosamine sulfate works as well as NSAIDs for some people but without the negative effects to the gastrointestinal tract or liver.

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.
Turmeric can be consumed in a variety of forms, including as a spice added to foods or drinks and encapsulated for those who are not tolerant of the signature spicy taste. Two to three teaspoons of turmeric daily can help to provide therapeutic levels of relief and preventive benefits with little side effects. Note: Turmeric absorbs best when taken in combination with black pepper (approximately 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper for every 1 teaspoon of turmeric). (17)
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!
In contrast, the guidelines of the American Pain Society and American College of Rheumatology have in the past recommended topical methyl salicylate and topical capsaicin, but not topical NSAIDs. This reflects the fact that the American guidelines were written several years before the first topical NSAID was approved for use in the United States. Neither salicylates nor capsaicin have shown significant efficacy in the treatment of OA.

15. Bromelain – This natural pain-reducer comes from the enzymes present in pineapple stems. Research shows that it reduces levels of prostaglandins, which are hormones that induce inflammation. Bromelain may benefit people with arthritis and conditions marked by musculoskeletal tension (like TMJ syndrome), in addition to those suffering trauma-related inflammation. The enzyme also promotes healing in muscles and connective tissues.
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.”
Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, says E. Anne Reicherter, PhD, PT, DPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes," she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice -- take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.
Capsicum is an extract from the chilli or cayenne pepper which reduces pain by continuously stimulating nerve endings in the skin at a very low-level. This depletes nerve endings of neurotransmitter chemicals so they become less sensitive and pass on fewer pain messages to the brain. Those messages that are passed on tend to get screened out as they brain shuts off distracting, low-level irritation. Ingredients that do this are known as ‘counterirritants’. These effects also reduce sensation from underlying painful joints. See the best capsicum containing rubs at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Warning! These are HOT to use, but really relieve muscle and joint pain. Wash your hands thoroughly after use and do them rub your eyes by mistake during use.

You are older than 65. “A lot of elderly patients can’t take oral NSAIDs because they have stomach or heart risk factors, and they can’t take narcotic analgesics because they could become so drowsy they could fall and break a bone,” says Roy D. Altman, MD, professor of medicine in the division of rheumatology and immunology at the University of California, Los Angeles.
"There are three that I swear by. I use Icy Hot Roll-On ($5; walmart.com) on my feet at the end of the day after I do my exercises to stretch my feet. It's also great for traveling because it doesn't get messy! I like Salonpas Spray ($8; walmart.com) because it can get hard-to-reach places on my back or shoulder blades. And since Tiger Balm ($5; walmart.com) is strong, I use that when my legs are sore and I sleep with it on. I wake up the next morning and feel great." —Nicole Winhoffer, founder NW Method
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.”

Physical therapists often recommend aquatic therapy — including exercises done in warm, therapeutic pools — for back pain. The buoyancy of the water helps alleviate strain on the joints to encourage strengthening and gentle stretching of the muscles. Even floating in warm water can help relax muscles and release tension as well as increase circulation, according to the Arthritis Foundation. With home whirlpool baths, try aiming the jets directly at your sore spots for a soothing underwater massage.
For natural headache relief, two essential oils team up for natural pain relief. Peppermint oil improves circulation and lavender reduces muscle tension — two ways to quickly stop a headache in its tracks. Try placing a few drops of peppermint or lavender oil into your hands and then rubbing the blend on your forehead, temples and back of neck. You can also dilute a few drops down by mixing the essential oils with almond, grapeseed or coconut oil.
Because drugs, unlike natural remedies for inflammation and pain, are created in a lab and our bodies are not equipped to digest and process them. Moreover, drugs are incredibly powerful which gives them the ability to offer fast relief of symptoms, like pain and inflammation. This is good for short-term use, but can be harmful over time. The body just can’t metabolize these drugs sufficiently to prevent them causing new damage and side effects.
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.
Because drugs, unlike natural remedies for inflammation and pain, are created in a lab and our bodies are not equipped to digest and process them. Moreover, drugs are incredibly powerful which gives them the ability to offer fast relief of symptoms, like pain and inflammation. This is good for short-term use, but can be harmful over time. The body just can’t metabolize these drugs sufficiently to prevent them causing new damage and side effects.
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.
How it works: When back muscles hurt, the pain is usually caused by inflamed tissue. Cold reduces the swelling and discomfort, says Jason Highsmith, a neurosurgeon in Charleston, South Carolina. As soon as you feel pain, apply cold several times a day, 10 minutes at a time, for about three days. A bag of frozen peas works, or try a cold pack, like an Ace Reusable Cold Compress ($10 at drugstores).
This herb has been shown to prevent the activation of the transcriptional factor NF-kB and it directly inhibits TNF-α production by up to 65-85%. It inhibits the expression of inducible genes associated with inflammation, specifically negating the expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase, and hence attenuates nitrous oxide production. Side effects may include nausea, although it has shown an impressive protective effect on indomethacin-induced enteritis in laboratory studies.

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.
Funny how things like this slip through the cracks. I communicate with patients and professionals locally and abroad more or less all day every day, study and research musculoskeletal pain problems obsessively, and am more or less constantly immersed in answering the question, “What can you do for body parts that hurt?” And yet I didn’t hear about this stuff for a good year after it had already hit the shelves.
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.
Plant- and animal-derived nutraceutical preparations have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years to obtain effective pain relief. Herbal medications are becoming increasingly popular because of their relatively few side effects. Nevertheless, there are problems associated with these dietary supplements, and their use requires knowledge of their biological action, clinical studies (both affirmative and negative), and potential interactions with other nutraceutical products and prescription medications.

I am 63 with osteoarthritis of my knee. I have struggled with pain relief and steroid injection hasn’t helped now waiting for new knee but need to control pain. I have just been recommended emu oil. I went to holland and Barrett and found Blue ease gel that has emu oil, capsicum and MSN amongst its ingredients. It does help the pain but skin burns (may have put too much on) how much will I need for a knee and will the burning sensation go away I have tried capsicum cream on prescription and that advised that burning sensation improves in a couple of weeks. From reading your advise re capsicum am I right in thinking that the burning sensation distracts the brain from the joint pain thanks

All products and services featured are selected by our editors. Real Simple may receive compensation for some links to products and services in this email on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice. Real Simple is part of the Meredith Home Group. © Copyright Meredith Corporationthis link opens in a new tab. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited | Privacy policythis link opens in a new tab | Terms of Servicethis link opens in a new tab | Ad Choicesthis link opens in a new tab | Your California Privacy Rightsthis link opens in a new tab | EU Data Subject Requeststhis link opens in a new tab
We looked at both gels and creams to create our top ten list. How did we evaluate consistency? We looked at whether the substances stained, went on greasy, or were otherwise messy to deal with. Did users like the feel of the gel or cream on their skin? Why or why not? We also looked at whether formulas were quick drying and whether they left a residue. When it came to ingredients, we wanted to select as many options as possible with natural ingredients that were easily recognizable.

Whether it was brought on by arthritis, a structural or nerve problem, bending the wrong way, or lifting something a little too heavy, low back pain is frustrating as all get-out. But if you're struggling, know this: You're definitely not alone. Most people experience back pain at some point in their lives, and it's one of the most common reasons people book doctor's appointments and call out of work. It's also one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
The information you share, including that which might otherwise be Protected Health Information, to this site is by design open to the public and is not a private, secure service. You should think carefully before disclosing any personal information in any public forum. What you have written may be seen, disclosed to, or collected by third parties and may be used by others in ways we are unable to control or predict, including to contact you or otherwise be used for unauthorized or unlawful purposes. As with any public forum on any site, this information may also appear in third-party search engines like Google, MSN, Yahoo, etc. Your use of this site is governed by Harvard University and its affiliates Terms of Use located at www.health.harvard.edu/privacy-policy and may be amended from time to time.
How much do you have to use at once and how often? Is it easy to apply too much? Generally, roll-on applicators are the best choice for reducing waste since it’s hard to put on too much when using them. It is also important to note that if you need deep muscle penetration roll-ons often don’t provide the same effect as hand rubbing gel or cream into the affected area. So be sure to keep that factor in mind as you review these products.

The displayed muscle relief cream of Ultra Freeze house comprises an inventive formulary that unifies the inherent pain-killing trait of Menthol with other virtuous clinical elements and in effect renders a durable cooling action and optimum soothing sensation that fortifies at the depth of physiology with the passing of time. A brain-child of DR Pat, the ointment consumes about 10 minutes to work and while catering the peak level of healing retains the ‘Cool’ feel for half-an-hour. The muscle relief cream is preferred by pros for post work-out restore phase, treatment of Tennis and Golfer’s Elbow, and to meet all kinds of soreness, neck, ankle and buttock aches and shoulder immobility. It comes in a concentrated 160z density.


Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications are fairly safe and somewhat effective in moderation and work in different ways, so do experiment cautiously. There are four kinds: acetaminophen/paracetamol (Tylenol, Panadol), plus three non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs): aspirin (Bayer, Bufferin), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn). Don’t take any of them chronically — risks go up over time, and they can even backfire and cause nasty rebound headaches. They are all probably equally effective for acute injuries (Hung), but benefits vary with people and issues (chronic pain, headache, arthritis, etc). Acetaminophen is good for both fever and pain, and is one of the safest of all drugs at recommended dosages, but it may not work well for musculoskeletal pain (at all?) and overdose can badly hurt livers. The NSAIDs all reduce inflammation as well as pain and fever, but at any dose they can cause heart attacks and strokes and they are “gut burners” (they irritate the GI tract, even taken with food). Aspirin may be best for joint and muscle pain, but it’s the most gut-burning of them all. Voltaren® Gel Review is an ointment NSAID, effective for superficial pain and safer (Derry). Athletes, puh-lease don’t take “Vitamin I” to prevent soreness — it doesn’t work!
Injections. If other measures don't relieve your pain, and if your pain radiates down your leg, your doctor may inject cortisone — an anti-inflammatory medication — or numbing medication into the space around your spinal cord (epidural space). A cortisone injection helps decrease inflammation around the nerve roots, but the pain relief usually lasts less than a few months.
Bromelian is a mix of proteolytic enzymes (those found in pineapples), which have been used for centuries to help indigestion and reduce inflammation. Studies indicate this product helps reduce pain associated with arthritis, especially when used in combination with some other natural pain-relieving agents making it a great natural remedy for inflammation and pain.
Yes, most of these creams can either be used on a daily basis or long-term basis. Nevertheless, at any given point in time, always ensure that you consult with your doctor to find out how often it would be advisable to use such forms of medication. The best quality ones are the ones that would be FDA approved and natural. Therefore, you should use these types of medication for as long as the health practitioners advise.

Biofeedback. You can learn to control your body’s responses to pain triggers. In biofeedback, through sensors connected to your body, a machine will show how thoughts and actions can affect your autonomic nervous system. This controls the heart, lungs, stomach and intestines, as well as the release of stress hormones. Learning how to control breathing and heart rate will allow you to control other physical reactions, such as pain.

Still an excellent product. It remains effective for pain relief for about 5 hours with each application for me. Make sure to rub in a good thick portion for several minutes to the entire area of pain. Each jar of Synthaflex lasts about 18 days for me with applications twice each day. It remains the best external joint and muscle pain relief rub that I have ever used.


Many athletes and arthritis patients swear capsaicin creams reduce their pain and they love the deep warming sensation they provide. This heat may be associated with relaxation, which reduces their pain response. Researchers have concluded that capsaicin creams may reduce nerve and osteoarthritis pain in some patients (when compared to placebo), but they aren't very effective in reducing muscle pain.  Best results are achieved in joints that are close to the skin, like those in the hands or knee.
While adding turmeric as a spice to foods tastes good, it has to be eaten in pretty large quantities to get a medicinal effect, as our gut does not absorb it well. The maximum pain relief effects are usually found with supplements that contain curcumin optimized for absorption (such as curcumin phosphatidylcholine complex). I like Meriva by Thorne Research, typical dosage of 500-1000mg twice daily. Although curcumin is much safer than anti-inflammatory medications, it does have some mild blood-thinning effects, so make sure to ask your health care provider before starting supplementation.

Veritas Health publishes original and accessible health related content written by more than 100 physician authors and peer-reviewed by a 16 member Medical Advisory Board. The Veritas Health platform comprising of Spine-health.com, Arthritis-health.com, Sports-health.com, and Pain-health.com, provides comprehensive information on back pain, arthritis, sports injuries, and chronic pain conditions. For more information visit Veritashealth.com.
NSAID medications have potential side effects, even though many of these medications can be obtained over-the-counter. Some of the side effects are minor, other certainly worrisome. Some people may be more prone to side effects given other medical conditions. For that reason, NSAID medication should be used with caution. If there is ever a question of whether or not it is safe for you to take these medications, and you should discuss this with your doctor. Anyone taking NSAID medications for more than a few days should have a discussion with her physician about the potential for side effects.
You may get pain relief from nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Or your doctor can prescribe a stronger medication if those don’t work. But you may have side effects or the medications might not provide complete relief for you. Here are other proven methods you can try to soothe arthritis pain in addition to pills and medical treatments.
Author Bio: Ginevra Liptan, MD, developed fibromyalgia while in medical school. She is a graduate of Tufts University School of Medicine and board-certified in internal medicine. Dr. Liptan is the founder and medical director of The Frida Center for Fibromyalgia and the author of The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide For You...And Your Doctor and The Fibro Food Formula: A Real-Life Approach to Fibromyalgia Relief.
Although it’s been available in Europe for many years, it was only approved for use in the United States in 2007. Also, other topical treatments (salicylates and capsaicin) have shown little potential in the past. And Arnica montana creams (Traumeel, for example) are extremely popular, but it’s unlikely that even full-strength arnica is medically potent, let alone when it is diluted down to traces.3
The use of fish oil (in the form of cod liver oil), an omega-3 EFA, for the treatment of muscular, skeletal, and discogenic diseases, can be traced back to the late 18th century as detailed by Curtis et al.,[24,25] Unfortunately, because of the rapid onset of rancidity of this polyunsaturated oil when exposed to air, and hence its disconcerting odor, cod liver oil fell out of favor. With improved extraction techniques, such as using a protective nitrogen blanket and enhanced oxygen-free encapsulation methods, there is less chance of oxidation during the manufacturing process. The therapeutic benefits of fish oil can now be realized without the regurgitation and odor of previous products caused by peroxides and rancid tasting fish oil.[14]
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
To avoid unwanted weight gain, consuming inflammatory ingredients or complications due to nutrient deficiencies, reduce or eliminate the following foods: added sugar, sweetened beverages or snacks, refined vegetable oils, refined grain products, too much alcohol and tobacco products (smoking impairs blood flow and adds to nutrient deprivation to spinal tissues).
"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
There's a reason there are so many roll-ons on this list. They're super handy and easy to use. This CobraZol gel provides quick relief that lasts up to 10 hours. It's a good choice for both chronic and acute pain. This gel comes in a 2 oz format. Believe it or not, this stuff actually contains cobra venom. Venom apparently is thought to help de-active pain pathways and reduce pain. This roll-on is a great way to manage pain and help users wean off of more serious and potentially dangerous pain medications.
However, it probably does not work well for deeper tissues in most cases. For instance, there’s evidence that it doesn’t work at all for the muscle soreness that follows unfamiliar exercise intensity,7 probably because it can’t be absorbed far enough into thick muscle tissue — but oral NSAIDs do have a modest effect on that kind of pain89 (one of the only things that does).

Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. "Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system. It takes a couple of days for this to occur," says David Kiefer, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

×