How to treat joint and muscle pain?
Patients reporting to pharmacies often complain of muscle and joint pains of various origins. The choice of an effective remedy for these ailments, tailored to individual needs, will certainly help a pharmacist who will propose the best for the patient from a wide range of tablets, ointments and analgesic gels, to patches and warming compresses.
Causes of muscle and joint pains
Muscle and joint pain are usually associated with the development of inflammation, which occurs as a result of an injury (eg bruises, sprains, dislocations). Appearing inflammatory reaction is a natural defensive response of the body to the resulting damage. Pain is also associated with osteoarthritis of the osteoarticular system. It is the effect of irritation of nerve endings or nerve compression, as is the case with degenerative changes in the spine caused by distortion of the intervertebral discs. In addition to pain at the site of inflammation, there is usually redness (due to increased blood flow) and edema (is the effect of vasodilation and increased permeability of their walls), and often reduced mobility of joints resulting in reduced motor performance.
In the immediate, symptomatic treatment of muscle and joint pains, it is worth using one of many effective preparations available in pharmacies. The patient can choose the right measure for himself from a wide range of tablets, analgesics and ointments, and patches and warming compresses. It is worth remembering that none of them will eliminate the causes of pain. Therefore, when the pain persists despite the several-day use of the preparations described below, and especially when the symptoms become worse within 7 days, it is essential to consult a physician.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for muscle and joint pain
To help ease suffering and improve well-being, ointments and gels (or tablets) that contain medicinal substances belonging to the group of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will help. They are also the most popular preparations for aching muscles and joints not only because most of them are available without a prescription, but also because of its high effectiveness. They will help especially in ailments resulting from an injury. Transient pain states, e.g. morning painful joint stiffness, require the use of drugs with a short half-life in the body. However, when treating people suffering from osteoarthritis, in addition to the inclusion of appropriate analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs, which not only alleviate pain, but also reduce the production of inflammatory mediators, it is extremely important to provide them with medical care and to join physiotherapy treatments. In serious osteoarticular conditions, these medicines should be given not only when pain has already occurred, but systematic and long-term use is recommended. In the case of persistent pains, it is recommended to use long-acting preparations or retard preparations.
Medication for pain in muscles and joints, both prescription and non-prescription
At the pharmacy without a prescription you can buy preparations containing:
- meloxicam (Meloxicamum) – tablets (7.5 mg),
- naproxen (Naproxenum) – gel (100 mg / g), tablets (100, 200 and 220 mg),
- ibuprofen (Ibuprofenum) – cream (50 mg / g), gel (50 and 100 mg / g), also gel with menthol or levomenthol (50 mg + 30 mg / g), numerous oral forms (100, 200 and 400 mg) .
- ketoprofen (Ketoprofenum) – cream (50 mg / g), gel (25 mg / g), skin spray (50 mg / g),
- diclofenacum natricum – gel (10 mg / g), skin spray (40 mg / g), medicinal patches (140 mg),
- Diclofenac diethylammonium diclofenac – gel (11.6 and 23.2 mg / g),
- diclofenac potassium (Diclofenacum kalicum) – coated tablets and soft capsules (12.5 and 25 mg),
- etofenamat (Etofenamatum) – gel and cream (100 mg / g), also cream with benzyl nicotinate (100 mg + 10 mg / g), skin spray (100 mg / ml).
Indications for the use of these medicinal products include, inter alia, topical (ointments, gels) and short-term treatment of traumatic, overload and inflammatory lesions of periarticular tissues: tendons, ligaments, muscles, joint capsules, synovial tissues and tendon sheaths. In addition, they can be effective help in neuralgia, root syndromes, ailments associated with muscle strain and in menstrual pain. In adults, they are also recommended in rheumatic and degenerative diseases of the peripheral joints and spine, because they reduce the severity of clinical and subjective symptoms (pain during movement, joint swelling, resting pain, morning stiffness), thus improving overall physical fitness.
It is recommended to use a thin layer of gel or ointment, which should be applied only topically to the skin surface, usually 3 or 4 times a day, and gently rub and then let it dry. The amount of the product should be adjusted to the extent of the disease and its hands should be thoroughly washed after application.
However, with severe pain, you can also offer oral non-prescription analgesics. However, without medical consultation, it is not recommended to use them for more than 7 days. Non-steroidal analgesics used in the form of tablets may cause many adverse effects mainly on the part of the gastrointestinal tract (eg epigastric pain, indigestion), respiratory system (including dyspnea and exacerbation of bronchial asthma) or allergic reactions such as pruritus or rash . In particular, signs of hypersensitivity to NSAIDs, active or past gastric and duodenal ulcer disease, severe liver, kidney or heart failure, third trimester of pregnancy and haemorrhagic diathesis are contraindicated.
Heating ointments for muscle and joint pain
Preparations with a warming effect are indicated especially in pains of degenerative and rheumatic origin. They can also be used when overloading and overtraining the muscles and after a few days of suffering the injury, but never with co-existing edema. They cause muscle relaxation thanks to the heat generated. They are recommended for use in adults.
In pharmacies, first of all, warming ointments of horse, mud and amber are used, among others in pain syndromes in the neck, shoulders and loins as well as injuries of the musculoskeletal system, as well as warming-relaxing balm from marmot’s fat, giving relief to tired or strained muscles and joints.
The main components of warming ointments are:
- methyl salicylate,
- salicylic acid,
- venom of the viper’s zygas,
- oils: eucalyptus, turpentine, cinnamon, clove and others.
The ingredients mentioned above due to irritation of nerve endings on the surface of the skin and increase of blood supply, affect the faster elimination of inflammatory factors and toxic metabolites. Thanks to this, they help effectively eliminate pain. Sick and sore places can also be warmed by rubbing them with salicylic or camphor spirit.
In turn, supporters of natural methods of treatment should be interested in the possibility of acquiring a homeopathic ointment, which contains, among others, aconite, arnica, chamomile and St. John’s wort, whose task is to reduce the severity of pain associated with inflammation. This complex product is recommended for supportive treatment especially after injuries, such as sprains of joints and in mild muscle and joint pain, also in longer treatments and in frequent injuries. May cause local skin irritation.
Cooling and warming patches for painful joints and muscles
An alternative to the ointment, preferred by some patients are ready packs (gel compresses), and patches which can painful spots heat up or cool down. The main component of the cooling patches is hydrogel, and some also contain additives of substances normally used in ointments, e.g. menthol. While patches warming effectively relieve muscle pain (indicated are in particular muscle pain back and shoulder), rheumatoid and neuralgia, sliced chambers (also ointments) brings relief in cases of blunt trauma, at which further swelling occurs, inflammatory exudate and hematoma (contusion , sprains), as well as pain associated with stretching and straining muscles.
In the pharmacies there are available warming slices containing:
- iron powder, sodium chloride and activated charcoal,
- capsaicin and glycol salicylate,
- thick extract from Capsicum Annuum L. capsicum fruit and dense root extract from Atropa belladonna L.
Warming patches are used in the topical treatment of nerve and mięśniobóli of different origin, for example. Lumbo – sacral spine. The feeling of warmth and relief after using them is immediate and the effect lasts up to 10 hours. Penetrating into the body heat will relax tight and sore muscles, thereby promoting the local blood circulation and relieving pain. It allows you to forget about ailments and quickly return to activity. It is important that the warming patches do not stick to damaged, irritated or injected skin, as well as after fresh injuries and fractures. They must not be used around the neck, neck, armpits and groin. Plaster should not stick to the bed during the night and during bathing. They should be removed immediately if excessive heat is found at the place of use.
The pharmacy can also be obtained containing no active drug substance compresses dry warming, which are suitable for people suffering from chronic and recurrent pain, neck, shoulders and wrists or back. They exhibit high topical activity relieving pain in muscles and joints associated with: the menstrual tension, effort and overloading and osteoarthritis. They warm up themselves, and the process is activated by the access of air. To achieve the desired effect, the belt should be worn continuously for at least 3 hours (preferably 8-10 hours).