UPDATE: This article was updated and revised with new information on July 19, 2019.
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So many of us spend hours slouched in front of the computer or hunched over the steering wheel, leaving us in desperate need of natural pain remedies. Though by now, you’ve probably figured out your preference of ibuprofen or acetaminophen to cure minor aches and pains, there are some natural methods you can incorporate into your routine if the pain persists, or you want to try something new.
There are at least 116 million Americans living with pain each year, according to a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). This constant and chronic suffering is a significant cost — $560 to $635 billion in medical bills and lost productivity each year, according to that same report. Not to mention, missed work and loads of stress.
From at-home treatments to pain-relief exercises, knowing the best natural pain relief may be tricky. DoctorOz.com has you covered with these all-natural home remedy pain relievers that may have you less tense in no time if you want to opt out of over-the-counter medication.
Back and Neck Pain Relief
According to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans experience back pain (specifically in the lower back) routinely. And, the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Medicine says that 10 to 20 percent of the population reports neck problems, according to 2008 research.
Every time you move, you bend your spine, squishing and compressing the discs between its bones. Sometimes too much spinal pressure on a disc as you’re aging can cause it to bulge out and press on a nerve, causing the nerve to get inflamed and signal pain that just won’t let up.
To alleviate back and neck pain, try capsaicin cream. It’s linked to alleviating nerve damage-related pain and is the same ingredient that gives chili peppers their spicy kick, so you’ll likely experience a burning sensation. Rub the healing cream on your neck and back muscles for relief. Apply it three times daily for two weeks for any chronic pain. Two sprays of capsaicin spray may also help stop a headache in minutes.
Vitamin B12 can also aid in reducing pain, as it is essential for neurological function. A deficiency of this essential nutrient can lead to a chronic pain syndrome, according to a 2015 research study by the American Academy of Neurology. Try eating more vitamin B12 naturally with these nutritionist-approved tips.
Joint Pain Relief
Back and neck pain aren’t the only two muscle aggressors that cause pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 91.2 million adults have arthritis or report symptoms of joint-related pain. Joint pain is caused by lack of cartilage, tendinitis, a broken bone, or a sprain (among others). As the years pass, our joints’ smooth surfaces roughen, according to Healthline, as natural lubrication and cartilage diminish, resulting in friction and pain.
To reduce friction and pain that comes as a result, try taking Boswellia extract. Boswellia — also known as Indian frankincense — is an herbal extract that traditionally has been used to alleviate joint pain, says Healthline. According to a small 2004 study published by the Arthritis Foundation, “People who took Indian frankincense/boswellia reported less knee pain, better mobility and an ability to walk longer distances than those taking placebo.” To get the maximum benefit, pick up boswellia extract with a 40 percent concentration and take at least 300 milligrams daily to reduce joint pain and increase mobility.
Powdered ginger also may work to control inflammation. You can add this relieving powdered ginger to hot water in the mornings, stir it into your lunchtime lemonade, or concoct whatever ginger drink tastes the best to you. You can also take a ginger tablet or capsule in doses of two to four grams taken up to three times a day, either all at once or divided into smaller doses. However, exact dosing and the resultant benefits are unclear.
Intense Pain Relief: Arnica
When your pain intensifies without warning, try all-natural arnica (otherwise known as Mountain Tobacco) gel. It’s made from arnica montana, a flower native to Europe. It’s also available in any health food store, and some have compared its effectiveness to ibuprofen. You can even apply arnica gel up to three times a day to treat arthritis pain. Make sure not to rub it on broken skin so as to avoid irritation, according to Harvard Health.
Full-Body Pain Preventer: Pelvic Power Tilt
This simple move may help stop pain before it starts with a whole-body approach. When one part of your body hurts, the rest of it takes on the additional muscular strain, which leads to pain.
Simply lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your belly button in toward your spine and hollow it out. Then lift your pelvis slightly off the floor (only an inch). After, slowly lower yourself back down and repeat 20 times.
This easy move can be done anytime, anywhere around the house. Do it two to three times a week and you may protect your entire body from pain.
Pain Reset: Positional Release Therapy
To avoid another day filled with soreness and muscle spasms, try positional release therapy to potentially shut down your pain in 90 seconds or less.
This technique may be strong enough to get rid of your pain, but gentle enough to be used in any age group. Try doing this once a week to reset the body. By using a strain-counterstrain method, it may help alleviate any type of pain from the neck, elbows, and legs. It may even provide relief for arthritis pain and menstrual cramps, too.
Find the tender point in your muscle that hurts the most. Then, take a pencil and use the eraser end to press down on the tender point for about 90 seconds. As you press down, rotate the eraser to work out the muscle. Make sure to take deep breaths to simultaneously relax the area.
Positional release therapy is based on the idea that it breaks down the pattern of muscle pain by melting away tightness. When you hold the eraser down on the spot, it theoretically signals your nerves to relax any pain spasms to provide instant relief. If you are seeking professional treatment, you can find a practitioner through the Positional Release Therapy Institute.
As you work to reduce and manage your pain, take the opportunity to strengthen your body and change its structure. This can be achieved through the pelvic power tilt, yoga practice, and other core-strengthening exercises that help lead to a pain-free lifestyle.