You may already have tried exercise and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers you take by mouth. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Another option is to try one of the many OTC topical creams that can help relieve arthritis pain. Here’s the low-down on these products to help you decide which arthritis cream might be best for you.
As I write in this month’s Harvard Men’s Health Watch, these so-called topical analgesics work best for more superficial joints like the knees, ankles, feet, elbows, and hands. “In those areas, the medication can penetrate closer to the joint,” says Dr. Rosalyn Nguyen, a clinical instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
Hi Peggy, It’s not a treatment with which I am familiar. Looking at the incredients, Blue Ice contains alcohol which will cool by evaporating, an aspirin-like substance (methyl salicylate), magnesium (muscle relaxant) and capsicum which has a pain killing action by depleting nerve endings of nerve chemicals. It looks like it is effective for muscle and joint pain and has good reviews but I can’t speak from personal experience. Hope that helps, Sarah B
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.
The most commonly used drugs to treat chronic pain conditions include opioids (morphine), nonsteroids (salicylates such as aspirin and ibuprofen), antidepressants, antiepileptics and anti-nerve growth factor inhibitors. All of these drugs have awful side effects and addictive tendencies. In fact, prescription and over the counter pain medications are the fastest growing drug addiction in North America (1).
One of the products I like mixes bromelain, curcumin, and quercetin. This powerful trio provides enhanced support for maintaining a healthy inflammatory response to reduce pain. Another favorite is a blend that contains essential nutrients the body needs to repair and recover, along with potent herbal pain alleviators, including black cohosh, white willow bark, valerian, and devil’s claw. Lastly, I suggest a high-potency proteolytic enzyme product combined with rutin. This supports the body’s natural processes for tissue and joint recovery. The enzymes work synergistically with rutin to naturally boost muscle and tissue repair.
Gels are less messy than creams because they tend to be less greasy. Water-based gels are also hydrating for the skin. Creams may be more difficult to get off your hands when you’re done applying but are good for massaging affected areas. However, some people feel that creams provide additional hydration and that the increased time it takes to rub most creams in actually allows it to penetrate deeper into the sore muscles and tissues. It really comes down to personal preference.
Could you find pain relief through a method that focuses on soft tissue manipulation and your psyche? The answer is yes. Rolfing, also known as structural integration, involves soft tissue work and movement education to realign your body’s myofascial structure with gravity. (8) (Think of your body’s fascia as the “netting” that encases your muscles and organs.)
How it works: A misaligned spine can cause muscle tension (read: pain). Both physical therapy and chiropractic treatment improve spinal alignment. Physical therapists strategically stretch and strengthen the muscles that help hold the spine in place. Chiropractors manipulate the spine to relieve areas of tension on the muscles. Consult your primary-care doctor for a referral.
The first is that inflammation-lowering NSAIDs destroy your gut lining. Check the bottle of ibuprofen or aspirin in your medicine cabinet. You’ll see it right on the label: “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen may cause ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach and/or intestine.” Long-term low-dose aspirin use is particularly likely to cause ulcers and tear holes in your intestine.