Hands down, one of the most common conditions we see in our clinics are muscular issues due to an underlying cause of tendonitis or arthritis. While continuous physio treatments are obviously the best course of action, some patients are not able to keep up with weekly visits. In those cases, patients often turn to oral medications like NSAIDs, or aspirin to ease their discomfort. While oral medication can be effective at reducing the pain, it floods the entire body with the medication. It may also not be an ideal solution for someone who has a sensitive stomach or is prone to ulcers.
In these cases, if pain is localized, yet preventing the patient from moving forward in their treatment, I might suggest they consider a topical pain reliever. There are many forms on the market, and each work differently depending on the active ingredients. There is Capsaicin (feel the burn), salicylates, and counterirritants which create a sensation that overrides pain signals to the brain. The biggest benefit these bring is helping to relieve acute, and localized pain felt as a result of soft tissue trauma, sprains, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
I find topical pain relievers such as Biofreeze, a counterirritant available at our clinics, are a great way to keep a patient committed to their recovery. Research, like this 2014 study conducted by researchers at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark, support these beliefs. The results showed that when compared with a placebo, Biofreeze improved Carpal Tunnel pain by 31 percent. A 2013 article in Pain Management News reported topical analgesics in general are useful for chronic and acute musculoskeletal pain.
Here’s how BioFreeze works: The main ingredient in BioFreeze is menthol which when applied to the skin provides relief as it temporarily blocks nerve pain from travelling to the brain. In other research, it is thought that menthol binds with receptors that cause the body to perceive cold sensations. Similar to the healing qualities of ice, BioFreeze temporarily reduces blood flow to applied areas.
Want to learn more about how physiotherapy and topical analgesics can work for you? Find a clinic closest to you and speak with our staff.