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Topical Pain Relievers

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You have most likely heard of Icy Hot or Tiger Balm. These are examples of Topical Pain Relievers (TPR’s). Creams or sprays that reduce your sensation of pain. While on the physical level, these TPR’s do not perform any healing function, their use can actually address a deeper aspect of pain.

Pain is experienced both in your tissues and also perceived by the brain. After your tissues have healed, your brain may continue to send a message that there is still pain in this area. This is often the case with chronic pain. Why does this happen? If an area has been in pain a long time, the signal that gets transmitted from the tissue back up to your brain that everything is aok stops working. So the brain will convince you that pain is still present even after an injury is healed.

This is where TPR’s can help. If you apply a pain relieving cream to an area every time it hurts, you are essentially reminding your brain that everything’s okay, and over time this neurological transmission can be restored to send the correct message back up to the brain that the area is no longer injured.

Our favorite TPR’s are China Gel, Biofreeze Spray, and Tiger Balm. The first two we carry in our office, and Tiger Balm is sold in most grocery stores and pharmacies. China Gel has both Menthol and Camphor which gives both a heating and cooling sensation. It is very effective for pain caused from arthritis. Biofreeze contains only menthol and so only has the cooling element. Tiger Balm is a thick ointment and works best on small areas such as jaw and head. There is research to support its use for tension-type headaches.