Authors of a 2016 review published in Seminars in Arthritis & Rheumatism conclude, “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.” However, A 2016 Cochrane review looked at 39 studies with 10,631 participants and found that topical diclofenac, “can provide good levels of pain relief in osteoarthritis, but only for about 10% more people than get this result with topical placebo.”
Achy back? You're not alone: back problems send more Americans to the doctor annually than nearly any other medical problem, according to a 2013 Mayo Clinic study. Whether you're recovering from misjudging a heavy load (we've all been there), dealing with a lingering injury, or have a chronic problem, you don't necessarily need to resort to popping tons of pain relievers. Talk to your doc about these 15 expert-approved natural back pain remedies, and find out if they are safe and appropriate 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.
As a doctor I’ve tried, recommended and prescribed many pain-relieving creams and gels to treat painful joints, backache, sore muscles, strained tendons and sprained ligaments. Medical guidelines even recommend that doctors prescribe topical creams and gels to treat mild to moderate joint pain. The best pain relief creams and gels are often just as effective as oral painkillers, but with much less risk of side effects. When I experience muscle or joint pain, I prefer to use a pain relief cream myself.
“I use Relief cream on every client who comes in with any type of pain, and they all say they absolutely love the fragrance (as do I) and how it feels on their skin—in addition to how well it relieves their pain. It is the ONLY topical pain cream I would even think of using (and having on my hands) all day long, and with its non-irritating ingredients I can do so worry free. I have never had anyone I have used it on or sold it to complain of any type of negative skin reaction to the product, which I find amazing since with most ever other product of its kind you run a significant risk of experiencing secondary skin irritation. As you can imagine I couldn't be happier with Relief's amazing formulation and superior results!” *
Bark from the white willow tree is one of the oldest herbal remedies for pain and inflammation, dating back to ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian civilizations, as an analgesic and antipyretic agent. Because of the gastric side effects of aspirin, there has been a resurgence in the use of white willow bark for the treatment of inflammatory syndromes. The mechanism of action of white willow bark is similar to that of aspirin which is a nonselective inhibitor of COX-1 and COX-2, used to block inflammatory prostaglandins.
Staying in bed for any prolonged period can make you stiff and increase pain. When you don’t move and bend, you lose muscle strength and flexibility. With bed rest, you lose about 1 percent of your muscle strength each day. And you can lose 20 to 30 percent in a week. It becomes more difficult to return to any activity. As you become weaker and stiffer your recovery takes longer.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are such effective pain killers that ibuprofen gel was originally only available on prescription. They are now widely available for self purchase and much better for your health than taking the same non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkillers by mouth. NSAID pain relieving gels do not cause the same level of side effects as the oral versions, such as indigestion and heartburn. You do need to follow the in-pack instructions, however, and take care not to apply too much. In some cases, overuse of ibuprofen gel can increase your blood pressure.
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.
For example, water therapy is gentle on your body because the water supports the weight of your body and provides gentle resistance. The exercise is done in warm water, which is also soothing. There are many land-based exercise programs that can provide a gentle, endorphin-producing form of exercise, such as tai chi, or yoga programs designed for people with chronic pain conditions.
Side effects from topical medications include redness, itching, and other skin irritation. They are generally mild—and uncommon. The cause of skin irritation is often the material used to make the cream or gel, not the NSAID, says Dr. Joanne Borg-Stein, medical director of the Harvard-affiliated Spaulding-Wellesley Rehabilitation Center in Massachusetts. When that happens, it’s possible for a pharmacist to create a preparation with ingredients that are less irritating to your skin.
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).
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, a psychotherapist helps you identify problematic behaviors (like becoming less active or doing fewer fun activities in response to pain), negative thoughts (about self, others and the future) and feelings (depression, guilt, anxiety). This can increase your awareness of how problematic patterns develop and help you understand the connection between thought patterns and feelings. You are then trained in pain coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, imagery, and goal setting, encouraging you to have an active role in managing and controlling pain. CBT can increase your ability to control pain while acknowledging that there may be occasionally flares beyond your control.
If you’ve got a taste for hot stuff, you likely know some level of pain is involved. Interestingly, though, hot foods like wasabi and cayenne pepper can actually act as natural painkillers. Cayenne pepper benefits include several types of natural pain relief. The powerful pepper actually helps alleviate post-operative pain, including pain relief after a mastectomy or amputation.
A combination of Boswellia and curcumin showed superior efficacy and tolerability compared with nonsteroidal diclofenac for treating active osteoarthritis. Boswellia typically is given as an extract standardized to contain 30-40% boswellic acids (300-500 mg two or three times/day). Boswellia has been well tolerated in most studies, although some people may experience stomach discomfort, including nausea, acid reflux, or diarrhea.[1–10,42,48,56,62,103,104]
The powerful anti-inflammatory ginger is more effective than drugs like ibuprofen for pain relief, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Arthritis. The study revealed that drugs like Tylenol or Advil do block the formation of inflammatory compounds. Ginger, however, “blocks the formation of the inflammatory compounds–prostaglandins and leukotrienes–and also has antioxidant effects that break down existing inflammation and acidity in the fluid within the joints,” reported care2.com.
For cinnamon to be used in the diet to reduce pain, it should be in powdered form, and should be the Ceylon variety, not cassia. Cassia is the most common form and is less expensive, but toxicity can be of concern when cassia is consumed in large quantities. Ceylon cinnamon presents no toxicity risks and has more potent health benefits. (22) Ceylon cinnamon is the preferred supplemental form, and for best results, one should take approximately 1-2 teaspoons per day.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage have several health benefits. They naturally support detox organs like the liver and kidneys, and they contain plenty of natural fiber, folate, and vitamin C. But they can also help to regulate inflammatory bacteria within the digestive tract, especially H. pylori, which is implicated in ulcers and other chronic digestive conditions. (25) Since the body obtains all of its nutrients via digestion, an inflamed digestive system will contribute to inflammation throughout the rest of the body. Eating cruciferous vegetables daily can help to promote the healthy elimination of toxins as well as the proper regulation of the digestive system.
For arthritis relief, it is important to have proteolytic activity on the systemic level. Known as protease, this category of enzymes acts as a catalyst in the breakdown of proteins into peptides or amino acids. This helps control both systemic inflammation and inflammation resulting from soft tissue injuries, like those associated with both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Proteolytic enzymes also provide essential antioxidant and cardiovascular support. I will discuss two of the more potent ones here:
The use of both over-the-counter and prescription nonsteroidal medications is frequently recommended in a typical neurosurgical practice. But persistent long-term use safety concerns must be considered when prescribing these medications for chronic and degenerative pain conditions. This article is a literature review of the biochemical pathways of inflammatory pain, the potentially serious side effects of nonsteroidal drugs and commonly used and clinically studied natural alternative anti-inflammatory supplements. Although nonsteroidal medications can be effective, herbs and dietary supplements may offer a safer, and often an effective, alternative treatment for pain relief, especially for long-term use.
The cream is affordable, effective, and gives wonderful results. You will want to use products that keep you that way. The hot cream is available in a large 8.8-ounce orange jar with either a silver metal or white plastic lid and the contents are always the same. It is 100% natural and 87% organic. It will firm up and tone your skin and remove that stubborn cellulite. Additionally, it warms up your aching and sore muscles for relief from that pain. Another benefit is that by firming up and reducing fat, you can be as trim as you want to be.
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.
For centuries, natural anti-inflammatory compounds have been used to mediate the inflammatory process and often with fewer side effects. We have briefly reviewed several of the most commonly used plant- and animal-derived natural compounds that may possess similar effectiveness in treating the inflammatory reaction seen in both chronic and sub-acute pain syndromes encountered in a typical neurosurgical practice. Ongoing experiments and clinical trials should be continued to guide and provide their scientifically based effectiveness to reduce inflammation and promote wellness.
Digging a metal tool into a painful spot, such as the bottom of your foot if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis, sounds like some sort of medieval torture practice. The Graston technique is an instrument-aided manual therapy that serves as a noninvasive way to deal with soft tissue ailments like achilles tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, shin splints, back and shoulder pain, and other ailments. It’s even been proven to help relieve pain associated with chronic conditions like trigger finger and post-surgery pain in a way that can reduce the amount of painkillers administered.
All the aforementioned creams are exceptional in dealing with joint pains. Therefore, if you wish to deal with pain experienced on the back, knees, and elbow then any of the creams outlined above would do you some good. Even if you may not be a fun of using pain relief medications the ten distinctive anti-inflammatory creams that have been discussed earlier would make you develop a liking for these types of medication.
The Inactive ingredients are aloe barbadensis leaf extract, arnica Montana flower extract, Actium lappa root (burdock) extract, boswellia carterii resin extract, calendula officinalis extract, carbomer, camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, camphor, glycerin, ilex paraguariensis leaf extract, isopropyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate, melissa officinalis (lemon balm) leaf extract, silica, tocopheryl (vitamin E) acetate, triethanolamine, water, blue 1, and yellow 5. Ilex is a skin protectant for topical skin barrier gels and lotions designed to protect the skin from harmful irritants such as urine and feces. It usually contains good things such as corn starch, white petroleum jelly, and zinc oxide.
11. Aquamin – Derived from red seaweed, aquamin is a powerful pain reducer, too. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, of 70 volunteers, Aquamin users reduced arthritis pain by 20% in a month and had less stiffness than patients taking a placebo. Helping to diminish inflammation and helps to build bone, aquamin is rich in both calcium and magnesium, too.
It’s the breakthrough technology used that makes this patch so ideal for pain management without traditional painkillers. Energy medicine technology, based off of quantum physics, harnesses the signatures of over 200 natural remedies known for their anti-inflammation properties, like turmeric, vitamin D, magnesium, and Omega-3. These remedies are transferred through a resonant carrier wave onto the patch. The electrons from all these energies are activated once the patch is applied to the skin. It then works with your body’s natural healing process to bring you fast, fast pain relief.
"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
Chronic pain is a modern day epidemic that affects more than 1.5 billion people worldwide. It costs nations billions of dollars in lost productivity and medical expenses every year. Debilitating pain effects more individuals than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. Doctors throw drug after drug at these pain syndromes with very little long-term success. Here are some of the best natural agents to reduce pain.