Autoimmune Disease Management 101: Fighting Back

Types Of Pain-Relieving Gels That Help With Joint And Muscle Pain

When you have problems with muscle soreness or joint pain, a pain-relief gel might be useful. An effective gel can reduce your reliance on pain medication and help keep you active by reducing pain. Pain-relieving gels work in different ways. Here's a look at some basic types of gels that might help your pain.

Cooling Gels

Some products contain an ingredient such as menthol that has a strong cooling effect on your skin. These gels are called counterirritants because they reduce pain by irritating your skin. The pain from the skin irritation can interfere with your muscle or joint pain signals so you perceive a reduction in overall pain. Care is needed when using a counterirritant gel because it could cause extreme discomfort if you get it on delicate skin or in your eye as you apply it. Cooling gels provide help for mild and moderate pain, but they may not be strong enough for severe pain. However, some pain-relief gels combine other ingredients with cooling menthol so they provide deeper relief.

Heating Gels

Gels that cause a heating effect on your skin work in a similar way as cooling gels. However, capsaicin is a heating product that binds with the pain receptors in your body to block deep pain signals. This type of gel helps treat joint pain from arthritis, although it may take several applications over a period of days before the results take effect. Capsaicin is even available in a prescription form for extra-strength pain relief for shingles. When you apply capsaicin gel to your skin, you notice an intense warming effect that can also provide therapeutic value, but you must be careful about rubbing your eyes until you've washed your hands thoroughly.

Anti-Inflammatory Gel

Aspirin can be applied topically for its anti-inflammatory effect. This type of gel is useful for muscle pain that's caused by injury and inflammation. This type of topical pain reliever can be used alone or in a formulation with a counterirritant. However, you shouldn't use a gel with aspirin until you've talked with your doctor if you've been told to avoid aspirin due to possible reactions with other medications you take.

Analgesic Gel

Some extra-strength pain-relieving gels contain an analgesic that numbs the skin. This pain reliever is beneficial for sunburn, muscle pain, and even joint pain. You should follow the instructions closely, because it's possible to overuse this type of pain reliever and experience side effects. You should also use care when applying a heating pad or ice for additional pain relief after you've used a topical pain-relieving product because you could burn your skin.

You'll find many types of pain-relieving gels on the market, so you may need to try different kinds before finding one that works well on your type of pain. The gel may be enough to manage your pain by itself, or it might be useful when used along with other treatments recommended by your doctor. For more information, you can visit sites like