The weather is beautiful and you feel encouraged to go on a hike. Maybe even an extended walk. You’re excited that you’re being active outdoors and embrace this “new healthy you.” You start committing yourself to healthier habits, and then you start feeling the dull ache in your knees. And then the dull ache turns to a throbbing pain. You’ve been making progress and you don’t want to stop now. You’ve been taking over the counter pills like ibuprofen, but it irritates your stomach. You want to try something different, but not really sure what to use. Try reaching for a topical pain relieving cream.
Topical pain creams are placed right over the area that hurts, and are absorbed through the skin. They can come as a standard cream or gel, a spray on pain relief, or even a patch you place over the painful joints. The same chemical compounds found in ibuprofen and aspirin are also found in these topical creams. Most of them also contain Methyl Salicylate (commonly referred to as wintergreen oil) which gives the creams a minty smell, and a cool feeling when applied to the skin. Many people can find a simple relief with these minimal, and conservative remedies. Oral NSAIDs can have more side effects than a cream would, so it’s important to know what works best for your body. If you’re prone to ulcers or have a sensitive stomach, it would be best not to rely solely on over the counter pain relieving pills.
Using topical pain creams is not solely reserved for people with minor aches from daily workouts. Many patients who suffer from mild arthritis and meet with an arthritis doctor are also ideal candidates to use pain relieving creams. When the pain is right under the skin, it can be more effective to use a cream that is locally applied, than waiting for a pill to be completely absorbed into the bloodstream. As stated, since the creams are absorbed through the skin, the topical pain medications seem to be the most effective when the pain is close to the skin’s surface, such as joint pain in the knees and hands. Ultimately, it is important for a patient to consult their doctor on the nature of their pain and to plan an effective treatment plan when using conservative therapies. People who use topical pain creams should not use them if they have any skin irritation occur, or for over seven days. Each type of cream will come with specific instructions that should be followed. If you have any questions or concerns, it is important to discuss them with your physician who can guide you to the most appropriate approach. You don’t have to give up on a healthier lifestyle because you encounter pain. Learning to manage the varying types of pain individually can ultimately be more beneficial for you, and allow you to have a fulfilling and active life.