If you’re someone who experiences muscle and joint pain from time to time (or on a regular basis), you’ve probably tried quite a few options for pain relief. And you’re probably already using external pain relievers—the kind you apply directly to your skin for fast relief from sore muscles and joints. But have you thought of adding an external pain relief cream to the mix?
"I am a true believer in Biofreeze ($15; performancehealth.com). My football coach introduced me to it years ago. It's a topical cooling pain reliever that works very similarly to ice but since it's a gel, I can apply it before teaching classes and training clients to keep function in my muscles and joints. In addition to relieving muscle pain or soreness, it can be used to help arthritis and other muscular and joint discomforts too. " —Mat Forzaglia, The Fhitting Room instructor
I’ve just emphasized that Voltaren is mainly appropriate for shallow inflammation, but there is some evidence that Voltaren might be able to “reach deeper.” This is hardly the stuff of medical certainty yet, but researchers Huang et al found that Voltaren treated pain coming from deep inside the spine, right in the centre.6 They concluded that it could be a “convenient and safe clinical intervention” for a few types of back pain. An anti-inflammatory gel will likely fail with many kinds of back pain, but there’s also virtually no down-side to trying. See my low back pain tutorial for extremely detailed information about medications for back pain.
The main advantage of topical NSAIDs is the reduced exposure of the rest of the body to the product, which reduces the side effect profile. Given the toxicity of NSAIDs is related in part to the dose, it follows that topical treatments should have a better toxicity profile. Consequently, the cardiovascular risks of topical diclofenac, even in those with a high baseline risk of disease, should be negligible with the topical forms.
In addition to the other methods and strategies discussed throughout my book, I recommend taking natural remedies that reduce pain and inflammation, protect joint health and promote healing without side effects. Below I offer an overview of 20 different supplements formulas or ingredients often found within such formulations. Read each, keeping in mind your specific condition and how some may be more effective for you than others.
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.
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