QUORA EXPERT - TOP WRITER 2018 Dr Sarah Brewer MSc (Nutr Med), MA (Cantab), MB, BChir, RNutr, MBANT, CNHC qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine and Surgery. After working in general practice, she gained a master's degree in nutritional medicine from the University of Surrey. Sarah is a registered Medical Doctor, a registered Nutritionist and a registered Nutritional Therapist. She is an award winning author of over 60 popular self-help books and a columnist for Prima magazine.
Many readers assume that “skeptics” will always favour mainstream and pharmaceutical treatments like Voltaren, but nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, some skeptics are leading the charge against bad pharmaceutical industry science and practices (and a great example is Ben Goldacre’s new book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients). Pharmacist Scott Gavura of Science-Based Pharmacy was certainly skeptical about topical NSAIDs like Voltaren when he first tackled the topic early in 2011.13 “When I recently noticed a topical NSAID appear for sale as an over-the-counter treatment for muscle aches and pains … I was confident it would make a good case study in bad science.”
NSAIDs such as topical diclofenac (Pennsaid, Voltaren) may cause swelling, ulcers, bleeding, or holes in the stomach or intestine. These problems may develop at any time during treatment, may happen without warning symptoms, and may cause death. The risk may be higher for people who use NSAIDs for a long time, are older in age, have poor health, smoke, or drink alcohol while using topical diclofenac. Tell your doctor if you have any of these risk factors and if you have or have ever had ulcersor bleeding in your stomach or intestines, or other bleeding disorders. Tell your doctor if you take any of the following medications: anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); aspirin; other NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); oral steroids such as dexamethasone, methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Rayos); selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Selfemra, in Symbyax), fluvoxamine (Luvox), paroxetine (Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) such as desvenlafaxine (Khedezla, Pristiq), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and venlafaxine (Effexor XR). If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop using topical diclofenac and call your doctor: stomach pain, heartburn, vomiting a substance that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds, blood in the stool,or black and tarry stools.

This US-made pain relieving gel comes in a 16-ounce jar, meaning it doesn’t run out fast and is there when you need it. It provides an immediate cooling sensation as soon as it is applied, but it’s what happens next that makes it stand out. The cooling relief intensifies over the next 10 minutes while the ingredients are working together, until it reaches the maximum level of ultra freeze pain relief. This sensation is maintained for the next 30 minutes or more.


Note: The cream is hot to your skin and should be used with caution. The heat comes from capsicum (capsicum annuum) oleoresin a hot pepper. Try a small amount the first time at your inside wrist and wait a half hour to see how it feels. Do not bathe or shower after putting it on because that will only make you feel hotter. Let your body cool down first. Never put the cream near your eyes or mucous membranes such at the lower nose. Do not use on your private area. Wash your hands after you have rubbed the cream into your skin.
Massage. Various forms of body work can provide temporary pain relief. You can try full-body Swedish massage for  stress relief and relaxation; deep-tissue massage, which uses pressure and slow strokes on deeper muscle tissue to release knots and relieve tension; or myofascial release, which uses long, stretching strokes to relieve tension around the connective tissue of the muscles.
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).
If you have an attack of lower-back pain that is severe, continuous and not improving, assessment and treatment by a health care professional who focuses on the back or other musculoskeletal problems may help. These practitioners may use both active and passive techniques to help you feel better. Examples of passive techniques that may be used to get you moving include:

The Biofreeze® pain relief gel is available in 16-, 32-, or 128-ounce bottles and is offered as the colorless or original green formula. The company has been making pain relief products for over 25 years. It is the #1 product that has been clinically used by professional healthcare hands-on providers, massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, foot doctors (podiatrists), athletic coaches, instructors, and trainers. This is considered the best pain relief cream for muscle pain perfect for athletes. When professionals have over a hundred clients each week, the economical 128-ounce jug might be best for you for not running out. You always want it on hand for clients with sore aching body parts.


“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!” *
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.
Named for its hook-like horns, cat’s claw, a woody vine native to the Amazon rainforest and other places in South America, is known for containing an anti-inflammatory agent that aids in blocking the production of the hormone prostaglandin, which contributes to inflammation and pain within the body. Stick to the suggested doses to avoid diarrhea: 250 to 1,000 mg capsules one to three times daily.
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.)
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your healthcare provider or 911 immediately. Any mention of products or services is not meant as a guarantee, endorsement, or recommendation of the products, services, or companies. Reliance on any information provided is solely at your own risk. Please discuss any options with your healthcare provider.
Arnica montana is a flowering mountain herb with a long history of traditional use in pain relief. Arnica extracts contain numerous pain reliefing ingredients, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids which reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, plus thymol which fights infection. Arnica cream, gel and ointment is used to ease muscle pain and spasm, insect bites, superficial burns – including sunburn – sprains and painful joints caused by arthritis or other rheumatic disorders. Herbal arnica products contain measurable levels of active ingredients, while homeopathic arnica products contain lower levels that work in a different way. Research shows that arnica products are as effective at relieving painful joints as ibuprofen gel when applied two to four times a day.
Arnica montana is a flowering mountain herb with a long history of traditional use in pain relief. Arnica extracts contain numerous pain reliefing ingredients, including sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids which reduce inflammation, swelling and pain, plus thymol which fights infection. Arnica cream, gel and ointment is used to ease muscle pain and spasm, insect bites, superficial burns – including sunburn – sprains and painful joints caused by arthritis or other rheumatic disorders. Herbal arnica products contain measurable levels of active ingredients, while homeopathic arnica products contain lower levels that work in a different way. Research shows that arnica products are as effective at relieving painful joints as ibuprofen gel when applied two to four times a day.
Resveratrol is a plant-based polyphenol molecule that is found in various concentrations of many different plant sources. The plant is called Japanese Knot weed or Polygonum cuspidatum, and the skins of red wine grapes are believe to have the most concentrated amounts of resveratrol. In plants, resveratrol is generally found in the plant skin and acts as a phytoalexin to protect the plant from infection, excessive UV radiation and aide in general plant defense. Resveratrol has also been found to have significant anti-mutation, anti-inflammatory, antoxidant and DNA protective actions, when consumed by animals and humans.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS) machines are small, battery-powered devices that transmit low-voltage electrical currents through electrodes that are attached to your skin. Considered very safe, TENS machines, according to one theory, work by scrambling the message of pain to the brain — literally blocking it. Another theory suggests that the electrical impulses cause a release of endorphins that override the sensation of pain. Many back pain patients have had success with TENS machines, though their effectiveness has not been clearly proven in controlled studies. Ask your doctor or physical therapist if this therapy might be right for you.
For greater efficiency in using these types of products ensure that you by an anti-inflammatory cream that would not make you feel less comfortable when you are around other people. The best quality creams in such a case are the ones whose scent vanishes quickly with every application or the ones that would emit no scent thus allowing you to continue your daily life activities more proficiently with no distractions. The creams made of natural ingredients are the best quality you could ever buy because they are both efficient and would not leave you feeling less comfortable perhaps because of the irritating smell you may be forced to endure in the hopes of dealing with your pain or inflammation that may arise from an injury. Never spend your money on a product that would not serve your needs as desired because the very reason why we buy different products at different points in time is so that they could meet our needs if not then there would be no need of acquiring the product in the first place.
The NSAIDs are also known to have adverse effects on kidney function.[31] Dehydration or preexisting chronic renal failure or disease, resulting in stimulation of the renin–angiotensin system, may predispose certain populations to acute renal failure through inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis, which can occur when taking NSAIDs.[31] The National Kidney Foundation asserts that approximately 10% of kidney failures per year are directly correlated to substantial overuse of NSAIDs.
It is therefore necessary to resort to another type of product which are less harmful for our bodies. One of the most effective products, which is widely backed up by scientific studies, is the arnica plant extract. The most widely used plants with local anti-inflammatory action in phytotherapy are arnica (Arnica montana) and, in a distant second place, devil’s claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
Arnica, also commonly known as mountain tobacco, is a plant that is defined as an ideal medicinal plant for “individuals who have suffered a significant fall or have injured themselves at work” in botanical texts dating as far back as the 17th century. It has many qualities from a topical perspective. First and foremost, it provides rapid relief from discomfort in the joints (including knees, elbows, shoulders and hands) and in individuals who suffer from arthrosis and live with chronic pain, and also for muscle cramps, blows, bumps, rheumatism, sprains, frostbite, etc. So what is the reason for this? As it happens, it causes an immediate calm in bruises from bumps and contusions thanks to localised reactivation of blood vessel circulation which reduces inflammation.
Zeng C, Wei J, Persson MS, et al. Relative efficacy and safety of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for osteoarthritis: a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and observational studies. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb. PubMed #29436380. “Topical NSAIDs were effective and safe for OA. Diclofenac patches may be the most effective topical NSAID for pain relief. No serious gastrointestinal and renal AEs were observed in trials or the general population.” BACK TO TEXT
Our writers spent 5 hours researching the most popular arthritis creams on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 30 different creams overall, screened options from 20 different brands and manufacturers, read over 50 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 1 of the creams themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
Research suggests that topical medications may be just as effective as oral ones. Many of them worked significantly better than placebo. These medications can come in the form of gels, creams, patches, and more. One study also saw decrease in pain when people applied lavender essential oil or ointments prepared with cayenne peppers with acupressure.
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.
Often patients will experience a different response in treatment with a different medication. This could be why some medications have helped your symptoms while others do not have a significant effect. This is not unusual, and it is difficult to predict which medications will most benefit a given individual. The best way to determine which NSAID is best for you is to try different options. Often a physician will recommend one NSAID, and if adequate relief of symptoms is not obtained within several weeks of treatment, another NSAID can be tried.
Foam roller exercises are a form of self-myofascial release that, while kind of mildly painful at times, actually gets out those nagging muscle knots while helping you fix muscle imbalances that lead to poor posture and related musculoskeletal pain. It’s also an emerging treatment to reduce your risk of developing delayed muscle onset soreness, a common exercise-related pain that keeps people out of the gym. (6)
For greater efficiency in using these types of products ensure that you by an anti-inflammatory cream that would not make you feel less comfortable when you are around other people. The best quality creams in such a case are the ones whose scent vanishes quickly with every application or the ones that would emit no scent thus allowing you to continue your daily life activities more proficiently with no distractions. The creams made of natural ingredients are the best quality you could ever buy because they are both efficient and would not leave you feeling less comfortable perhaps because of the irritating smell you may be forced to endure in the hopes of dealing with your pain or inflammation that may arise from an injury. Never spend your money on a product that would not serve your needs as desired because the very reason why we buy different products at different points in time is so that they could meet our needs if not then there would be no need of acquiring the product in the first place.
This cream uses a blend of essential oils. It smells nice and when you apply it, and it moisturizes the skin. By providing cooling relief for troubled areas, this product alleviates a lot of muscle discomfort, making it ideal for a variety of people, including athletes and anyone suffering from chronic pain. It’s a bit like Icyhot, except it is made with natural healing oils.
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.
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.
I have just read here that diclofenac gel is one of the best anti- inflam gels. What it does not say is that if you need to use it on more than one area of the body as I do, and only once a day before bedtime, that after the relatively short time of 6-8 weeks it can raise the B/P significantly in people like me for instance who have never had hypertension!
Whether or not research can prove that massage therapy helps, many people report that it relaxes them and eases chronic pain. In a 2009 research review published in Spine, researchers reviewed 13 clinical trials on the use of massage in the treatment of back pain. The study authors concluded that massage "might be beneficial for patients with subacute and chronic nonspecific low back pain, especially when combined with exercises and education." The authors called for further studies that might help determine whether massage is a cost-effective treatment for low back pain.
If you find yourself snacking at night before bed, it may be because you're bored or anxious — not truly hungry — and eating makes you feel better. Try eating a healthy dinner a bit later in the evening. If your stomach is truly growling before bed, try a protein-based snack like a hard-boiled egg or a slice of cheese. A few spoonfuls of yogurt or some fruit is another good option. 
Those who have tried using this Neosporin product say that cuts and scrapes heal within three days when this ointment is applied and that pain subsides quickly. To properly use the ointment, be sure to first clean the affected area with mild soap or saline water. Apply the Neosporin and then use a bandage to properly protect the area while it heals.
Even though you might need something for your pain or a product that would help minimize inflammations of any kind, the cream that you buy should come with greater convenience. The creams that have a no greasy feeling quality when used would be the ultimate choice you could ever make if you desire a medication that would be more comfortable and effective at the same time. The creams with no greasy feeling would mean that you would never stain your clothes with the ointment and most of all; you would be able to tackle the minor injuries you may be subjected to at different times in your life. If you are not sure of what to buy, make sure that you consult with your friends or family members who may have used some of these products at different times in their lives. If not, ensure that you talk to your doctor on the same issue since the physicians are more than capable of providing individuals with the best advice regarding the anti-inflammatory creams that would work better with no side effects whatsoever. With everything considered, what is important is acquiring a cream that is viable, reasonably priced, safe to use, and able to provide you with fast pain relief.
Reduce the inflammation that's contributing to your pain. It may seem obvious but it bears repeating; inflammation is a contributor to most forms of chronic pain, and reducing the inflammation will help reduce your pain. A simple way to address inflammation is to regularly apply a cold pack or ice to the local area of pain. Ice also helps by acting as a local anesthetic and by slowing nerve impulses, which in turn can interrupts the pain signals generated in the affected area.

Homeopathic (diluted) herbal ointments featuring Arnica are claimed to be good medicine for muscle pain, joint pain, sports injuries and bruises, but their effectiveness is questionable. Known to most customers as an “herbal” arnica cream, most actually contain only trace amounts — too little to be a chemically active ingredient. Homeopathy involves extreme dilution of ingredients, to the point of completely removing them. Some other herbal ingredients may be less diluted and more useful. However, neither homeopathic or pure herbal creams of this type have produced results better than placebo in good quality modern tests. See Does Arnica Gel Work for Pain? A detailed review of popular homeopathic (diluted) herbal creams and gels like Traumeel, used for muscle pain, joint pain, sports injuries, bruising, and post-surgical inflammation. BACK TO TEXT

After reviewing data regarding various treatments for lower back pain, the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality concluded that those suffering from back pain should first try conservative/natural treatments and then consider other options for lower back pain relief if pain persists. Oftentimes low back pain sufferers can find relief naturally by making changes to their lifestyles (including sleep, physical activity, stress and body weight) before choosing more intensive care options.
This can vary depending on the reason for treating you, so speak with your doctor for advice. If you are using an anti-inflammatory for acute muscle pain, usually treatment lasts for as long as you have pain and inflammation. For example, a few days, or weeks. But if you are being treated for conditions like osteoarthritis, your doctor may advise you to use this medicine for the long term.
I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com
To minimize your risks for a skin reaction, Cowling recommends doing a skin test before starting any topical pain reliever and washing your hands immediately after applying. Also don’t use topicals on any areas of the body where you have an open wound or broken skin, even a scratch. If you develop severe itching, redness, swelling or any other signs of a worsening skin reaction, contact your doctor. 
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. 

"I am a huge fan of Normatec recovery bags (starting at $1600; normatecrecovery.com) You put them on like sleeves and fill up with air while massaging the muscle. It is a game changer when it comes to helping with sore muscles. Not only does it help with soreness but helps flush lactic acids and improves circulation." —Chase Weber, celebrity personal trainer (Try his three-part total-body workout for strength, power, and stability.)
3. Menthol, Eucalyptus and Mint Oils. Pain relieving creams containing either one or a combination of menthol, camphor, eucalyptus, spearmint, wintergreen or peppermint are thought to work by "confusing" nerve signals into feeling heat and cold sensations instead of pain.  Popular brands include Mentholatum Deep Heating Rub® and Icy Hot® (which may contain methyl salicylate too).  While many pain sufferers say these products work, its' relief is temporary at best.  These pain relief creams have to be reapplied frequently and tend to have strong fragrances.
For those amenable joints, though, Voltaren® Gel delivers a good dose of medication directly to the joint, while sparing the gastrointestinal tract from the harshness of NSAIDs — which are actually known as “gut burners,” and many people just can’t stomach ibuprofen. A gel almost completely eliminates the risks associated with digesting the stuff.4
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.
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.
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