The Best Muscle Pain Relief Cream

Many people, including athletes, use topical pain relievers to treat their muscle aches and pains. These are applied directly to the skin and come as creams, gels lotions or patches.

It is difficult to identify the best pain relief cream since very little research has been done to compare the different types. Most people usually use such products based on their personal experiences and subjective feelings.


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There are 3 major categories of muscle pain relief creams:

We recommend natural pain creams for people suffering from back pain, neck pain, sciatica and all other forms of pain.

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Other Non-Natural Creams containing methyl salicylate – related to aspirin, methyl salicylate is known as oil of wintergreen and is made naturally by many plants. It used in topical pain relief creams such as Bengay because of its ability to dilate capillaries and increase local blood circulation. The same benefits can be achieved with all natural formula’s like the ones mentioned above.

Some researchers claim that salicylates do not ease muscle pain when used on the skin. Many people disagree and continue to use these popular classic pain relief creams based on their own personal experiences.

These creams are not recommended for use by those who are allergic to aspirin. Excessive application and taking these products internally are harmful to health. Capsaicin Creams – capsaicin is the active component of chili peppers. It causes a hot, burning sensation when applied to the skin.

Capsaicin is used in very small concentrations in topical ointments and in muscle pain relief creams for the temporary relief of backaches, strains and sprains.

It causes the depletion of a chemical called substance P in nerve cells that send pain signals to the brain. In other words, capsaicin creams do not treat the cause of your muscle pain, but prevent you from feeling it.

Counterirritant Creams – work by creating and increased blood flow to relieve inflammation in underlying or nearby muscles. They usually contain menthol, wintergreen or eucalyptus oil.

In some studies, people reported less pain on application of a counterirritant cream after performing an activity that caused muscle soreness. According to Oxford biochemist Andrew Moore, topical pain relief creams containing salicylates as the main active ingredient are not as effective topical local anesthetics, topical capsaicin, and some topical NSAIDs.

When used moderately, muscle pain relief creams are relatively safe. Never use them on broken or irritated skin and always wash your hands thoroughly after application Many topical medications mask or suppress the natural pain signals of the body. Ignoring pain can increase your risk of further muscle or joint injury.

In the long-term, the best solution may be to identify the true cause of your pain rather than just treating the symptoms.

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Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFTPain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist.

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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