Aches, pains, sore muscles, and stiff joints are a more common occurrence than you think. Statistics report that close to 40% of Americans experience some form of chronic pain necessitating pain relief medications, oral or topical. Should you visit your local pharmacy, you can buy over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs, an acronym for NonSteroidal AntiInflammatory Drugs. This treatment is available in pill or gel, cream, or ointment form for topical application. Going with applications could be a more effective and long-term solution when choosing between the two options. Read ahead to understand why.
Let’s Understand How Pain Relief Medications Work
When you suffer an injury or trauma to a specific section of the body, the hormones or prostaglandins on the site trigger inflammation to initiate the healing process. Nerve endings react to the swelling by sending pain signals to the brain. When you have a pill or apply an ointment, the medicine interferes with the action of the prostaglandins, which is why you feel instant relief from the pain. Of course, oral and topical formulations work in different ways, but they have the same effects.
Applying Pain Ointments Targets the Affected Area Directly
Any oral pills you consume must pass through the digestive and circulatory systems, and essentially affect the entire body. However, a topical application targets only the affected body parts to give you localized relief which is, undoubtedly, faster and more effective. Moreover, the action of the medicine works solely on the inflamed area.
You’ll Avoid the Long-Term Effects of Pills.
Studies have shown that long-term consumption of pain medications could have harmful effects on the digestive and cardiovascular systems. That’s because they pass through the body’s organs like the stomach, digestive tract, liver, kidneys, and heart. However, a topical pain reliever cream passes through the skin to reach only the inflamed muscles and is far safer.
You’ll Limit the Consumption of Oral Medications.
Even if the oral medications you take are mild and unlikely to cause much harm, doctors recommend that you take doses at a minimum interval of four hours or more. Patients with chronic pain often need to take higher doses or stronger medications as their body adapts to the low doses. However, you can safely apply topical creams multiple times without the risk of harmful after effects. Feel free to massage the cream into the affected area without worrying about your body developing tolerance.
Topical Applications Are Effective on Different Kinds of Pain
Doctors typically advise pills specifically for the kind of pain you have like, for instance, a sprain, strain, torn muscles, or compression neuropathy where the body organs exert pressure on a nerve. Further, several kinds of pain cannot be treated with oral medications. But, you can treat any inflammation with topical applications.
A few examples include counterirritants that contain camphor, methyl salicylate, and menthol. These elements produce sensations of warmth and icy cold on the skin surface that distracts users from the actual pain emanating from within the damaged muscles. Then there are cream anesthetics that numb the nerve endings to give you relief from the pain. Or, opioids that are absorbed through the skin and target the sensory neurons.
When you’re looking for relief from chronic pain, popping a pill seems like an effective solution. But, do take the time to read up on the possible adverse after-effects. Go with topical medications that are likely to work well without the potential for long-term reactions. Discuss your options with your health care professional today!