studies and meta-analyses report a strong relationship between chronic pain and abnormalities in glucose metabolism. Insulin resistance and abnormal blood sugar pave the way for inflammatory pathways, resulting in chronic pain. Magnesium deficiency is another that comes to mind. Magnesium helps to block the brain’s receptors of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that may cause your neurons to become hypersensitive to pain. Intestinal integrity is one that many people don’t think to connect to their pain. However, high-quality food choices are crucial for managing pain due to the way they influence gut health. Substances in grains may increase intestinal permeability, allowing undigested food particles, bacteria, and other molecules to enter the bloodstream, which can influence inflammation and chronic pain.
Medications are not the only solution to control inflammation and discomfort. As we become increasingly aware and sensitive the possible side-effects of any medication, more patients and doctors alike are interested in non-pharmacologic methods to control inflammation. There are many ways that people address inflammation. Some have better scientific support than others, but most all are safe to try.
4. Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens) – This ominous sounding herb is actually great for treating numerous health conditions, among them are liver problems and heart burn. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can reduce pain from arthritis, headaches, and low back discomfort. The University of Maryland Medical Center has published several studies that had great success treating Osteoarthritis with Devil’s Claw.
Rolfing not only relieves physical muscle pain rooted in your fascia, but also improves your emotional well-being and energy. Whether you’re an athlete looking to improve your game or someone suffering with TMJ pain, chronic back pain or spine pain, rolfing is something worth exploring. It’s a potent natural painkiller that impacts your neuromuscular system in a positive, pill-free way.
Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, says E. Anne Reicherter, PhD, PT, DPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes," she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice -- take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in abundance in fish oil derived from cod, trout, herring, salmon and other coldwater fish are proven natural remedies to reduce inflammation. Research from Cardiff University in Great Britain found that cod liver oil not only relieves pain, but also stops and even reverses the damage caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3s help morning stiffness, regenerate joint tissue and have been shown to also aid in autoimmune disease like RA, lupus and psoriasis.
Five updates have been logged for this article since publication (2009). All PainScience.com updates are logged to show a long term commitment to quality, accuracy, and currency. more Like good footnotes, update logging sets PainScience.com apart from most other health websites and blogs. It’s fine print, but important fine print, in the same spirit of transparency as the editing history available for Wikipedia pages.
“I had sciatic pain so bad that I went to a doctor for a 'series of three shots' (or so he said) for the pain, yet ten shots later the pain was still there. When a friend of mine gave me a tube of Relief pain cream that had a little left in it so I could give it a try I was so amazed at how effective it was in relieving my pain that I immediately called and ordered two tubes, and I will be asking my doctor to stock it—because I absolutely love this stuff!" *
There is strong scientific support for the effectiveness of Alexander Technique lessons in the treatment of chronic back pain, according to a research review published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice in 2012. The review included one well-designed, well-conducted clinical trial demonstrating that Alexander Technique lessons led to significant long-term reductions in back pain and incapacity caused by chronic back pain. These results were broadly supported by a smaller, earlier clinical trial testing the use of Alexander Technique lessons in the treatment of chronic back pain.
The best way to take natural remedies for inflammation and pain is by following the guidelines on the label. These guidelines are often the minimal doses and therefore for acute conditions the doses can be increased, sometimes doubled or tripled. However, in high doses even natural substances can become toxic in the body. In all cases, it is necessary to use caution and to take supplements and medications as directed on the bottle or as suggested by a professional healthcare provider.
We looked at both gels and creams to create our top ten list. How did we evaluate consistency? We looked at whether the substances stained, went on greasy, or were otherwise messy to deal with. Did users like the feel of the gel or cream on their skin? Why or why not? We also looked at whether formulas were quick drying and whether they left a residue. When it came to ingredients, we wanted to select as many options as possible with natural ingredients that were easily recognizable.
It may be tempting to quit exercising when you're suffering from back pain, but it's essential to keep yourself moving. Pilates is one great option. In a 2014 European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine study, researchers found an improvement in pain, disability, and psychological health in chronic low-back pain patients who took five hourlong Pilates classes a week for six months. Meanwhile, people who remained inactive experienced further worsening of their pain. Similarly, a Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise study revealed that taking either Pilates or a general exercise class twice a week for six weeks both improved pain and quality of life.
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
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.
Curcumin is a naturally occurring yellow pigment derived from turmeric (Curcuma longa), a flowering plant of the ginger family. It has traditionally been used as a coloring and flavoring spice in food products. Curcumin has long been used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines as an anti-inflammatory agent, a treatment for digestive disorders, and to enhance wound healing. Several clinical trials have demonstrated curcumin’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antineoplastic effects. Results of a study by Zandi and Karin suggested that curcumin might be efficacious in the treatment of cystic fibrosis because of its anti-inflammatory effect. Curcumin is known to inhibit inflammation by suppressing NF-kB, restricting various activators of NF-kB as well as stemming its expression.
I will admit I wasn't a believer. I have torn my knees all up and have had surgery. Surgery fixed the torn meniscus but the pain didn't stop. So I got on the pain pill routine. I hate taking the pills they make me feel fuzzy. A friend recommended Topricin to me. I got some and used it. Within days I noticed I needed less pills. It really does help the pain. I love it IT WORKS! I still have the pills in case it gets really bad but most of the time the pain can be managed by using the cream. I even keep a small tube in my purse just in case I need it. It also helps to show people what I am using. An added benefit is that it doesn't smell.
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.
"I love to make my own home remedy to soothe sore muscles by adding 1-2 cups of Minera Dead Sea Salt ($42; sfsalt.com) and 5-8 drops of lavender essential oils to my bath. This combination draws out toxins, calms the parasympathetic system and helps aching muscles, while easing swelling and improving blood circulation. Afterwards, I'll apply some coconut oil to soothe dry skin.' —Nikki Warren, co-founder Kaia FIT
"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.)
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.