Topical glucosamine cream and gel can significantly reduce the pain of knee osteoarthritis within 4 weeks. One study involving a glucosamine cream found that 100% of those with arthritis of the shoulder gained benefit. Of those with arthritis of the ankle, wrist or elbow, glucosamine cream reduced pain in 75% of people, and it worked in 58% of those with knee osteoarthritis.
Cinnamon is a popular natural remedy for helping to control blood sugar, but it can also keep inflammation levels low in the body and improve digestion. (20) Spices have long been used for medicinal purposes, but in a modern day where pharmaceutical options abound, it is rarer to use food as medicine. Still, cinnamon and other spices can have broad anti-inflammatory benefits and in many cases, can be equally as effective to (or more) than NSAIDs, whether over-the-counter or prescription. (21)
A study involving 120 people with acute upper or lower back pain showed that rubbing in comfrey cream, three times a day for 4 to 6 days, reduced pain intensity by 95%, compared with just 38% reduction for inactive ‘placebo’ cream. Comfrey works quickly, providing good pain relief within an hour of application. In fact, researchers have found that comfrey cream is more effective than a prescribed, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory treatment (diclofenac gel) for treating ankle sprains.
Rosenzweig, S., Greeson, J. M., Reibel, D. K., Green, J. S., Jasser, S. A., & Beasley, D. (2010, January). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for chronic pain conditions: Variation in treatment outcomes and role of home meditation practice. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 68(1), 29–36. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399909000944
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Endorphins are hormones made naturally in your body. What most people don't know is that they can be just as strong as any manufactured pain medication. When endorphins are released in your body, they help block pain signals from registering with your brain. Endorphins also help alleviate anxiety, stress, and depression, which are all associated with chronic back pain and often make the pain worse.
Low back pain and neck pain often involve a substantial amount of muscle pain,22 and muscle pain is not particularly inflammatory by nature. Muscle knots (trigger points) are more like poisoned muscle than injured muscle. Although there’s some anecdotal evidence that taking an anti-inflammatory medication reduces muscle pain, mostly it doesn’t seem to work very well. One of the classic signs of low back pain powered by muscle, for instance, is that ibuprofen doesn’t have much effect!
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.
Try massage therapy. Studies have shown that massage therapy not only helps with relaxation, but can also help diminish the body's perception of pain. A high quality therapeutic massage spurs blood flow, which in turn helps nourish and heal the soft tissues in throughout your body. Massage also releases endorphins, which are your body's natural analgesics. Massage therapy is defined as soft tissue—muscles, tendons, and ligaments—manipulation through hands-on massage by a qualified massage therapist. Like many complementary therapies, there is no substantial agreement in terms of how much massage therapy can help reduce pain, or which type of massage is best for which type of pain, so you may need to try more than one approach to find what works best for you.
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.
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.
Pain relief products that provide a cooling sensation can help distract the body from pain signals to ease comfort. One to try is Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel, which is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and athletic trainers to relieve muscle and joint pain. The formula contains 4 percent menthol—which is responsible for the cooling sensation—as well as an herbal blend of camphor, aloe, arnica, calendula, and more. The cream is NSAID-free and doesn’t contain parabens or propylene glycol.
The active ingredient in cloves is eugenol, a natural pain reliever that’s also used in some OTC pain rubs. Rubbing a tiny amount of clove oil on your gums may temporarily ease toothache pain until you can get to a dentist. But too much undiluted clove oil may actually hurt your gums, so discuss this approach with your dentist before trying it at home.