I used to think that pain lotions were too light for my severe chronic pain. I was ignorant.
Welcome back to “Life’s a Pain!” This month’s topic is topicals, which are a touchy subject.
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There are now a lot more choices than the Bengay and IcyHot of my youth. I never travel without at least one topical treatment in my bag (and on my skin).
Topicals, on the other hand, work by stimulating sensory receptors in the skin with counterirritants like as menthol and camphor, which may reduce pain sensations.
Basically, you’ll notice a more neutral sensation of cold or heat rather than pain. These components, as well as the physical act of rubbing them in, help to relax muscles and increase blood flow to the afflicted area.
I used to think that pain lotions were too light for my chronic condition. I was mistaken.
Although they can’t cure the pain, they are an essential element in coping with it. There is no danger of addiction, and most of them are reasonably priced.
Allow me to introduce you to a few of my favorites:
Tiger Balm White Ointment
At any one moment, I can reach for two to five jars of Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is easy to use, effective, and inexpensive.
This is my gold standard for topical pain relief. The pain goes away for hours. I typically apply it to my knees, wrists, and back.
Scent: It’s powerful. It has a clove, peppermint, and camphor taste to it. It may be too strong for some individuals.
Pro tip: The original orange variety will stain. The white ointment will not. It’s more cost-effective to purchase in bulk rather than purchasing one at a time.
Ted’s Pain Cream
Resveratrol is a non-narcotic drug that claims to “outsmart pain at the molecular level” in this pain balm.
Ted’s isn’t a miracle cure-all, but it does provide some relief for chronic pain. It works for me as well as others who have severe, nerve-wracking pain such as migraines or toothaches. I also use it to alleviate muscular tension and arm discomfort. It smells fantastic!
Scent: It features a citrusy and herbal flavor profile that is complemented by its unique green hue. It’s both pleasant and light, unlike some menthols that are cloying.
Pro tip: I save $6 by buying a three-pack instead of six individual ones.
Mary’s Medicinals CBD Muscle Freeze
This CBD-infused candy is a luxurious temptation. Its gel-like consistency adheres well to the skin, and CBD has been shown in studies to help with inflammation.
I like it for muscular strain injuries, particularly in my neck and shoulders.
Pro tip: If cannabis is legal in your state, look for Mary’s. Otherwise, get the version with legal CBD derived from hemp here.
This is an easy and inexpensive way to provide pain relief on the spur of the moment.
These tiny patches are small enough to fit in the tiniest of bags and last for hours, and no one else will smell them unless they’re actually sniffing your skin.
Scent: There isn’t much of a smell, and it has a menthol-like odor.
Pro tip: There are a few of reasons why DIY patches may not adhere well to joints, impede movement, and readily fall off. Stick to back and muscular discomfort!
Mary’s Medicinals 1:1 CBD:THC Patch
This scentless patch from Mary’s is a pain relief treatment that does not release any scent. It adheres to your skin for up to 12 hours and releases a little, continual stream of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
It relieves my moderate-to-severe pain days without clouding my thinking.
Pro tip: Use coconut oil to remove it because it adheres like glue!
Best topical practices
There are a few things to bear in mind before you go off and try them.
Quick topical tips
- Make sure you don’t apply any of these to broken skin, burns, or rashes.
- If you have sensitivities to any of the ingredients, be sure to check them.
- When using a product for the first time, always do a patch test.
- Many of these contain menthol, which can be irritating. After applying, clean your hands and avoid touching your eyes and mucous membranes.
- Use a makeup spatula to remove any last drops.
Frequently asked questions
What is topical pain relief?
Topical pain relievers, or analgesics, are medications used on the skin to help with discomfort relief. They can be in the form of:
- other topical methods
Are topical analgesics effective?
Topical pain relievers, according to research, may be as effective as oral medications in reducing pain by up to 50%.
How long does it take topical pain relief to work?
Topical pain relievers work by going into the skin and interacting with the tissues within the skin. Topical pain relievers have various effects on the skin, but they all absorb and act differently.
There are so many different pain treatments available. This list merely reflects a portion of what is accessible.
As always, speaking with your care team might help you determine what methods are most appropriate for you.
I hope you’ll give these topical treatments a try the next time you have a flare. And don’t forget: tiger balm isn’t just for tigers anymore.