Natural pain relievers go underused

Many conditions associated with chronic pain involve the musculoskeletal system.  Myofascial problems and joint swelling are chief among them.  There are several forms of arthritis that can lead to debilitating pain in all areas of the spine, as well as the various joints of the arms and legs. Joint pain, myofascial pain, arthritic pain and fibromyalgia, can improve significantly with several natural remedies now available.

Most people who suffer with chronic muscular pain and joint problems can derive significant benefits from exercising regularly.  Stretching the muscles of the neck, back, arms, and legs helps to tone muscles.  In some cases isometric and resistance exercising may also be beneficial.  All of the major body joints respond remarkably well to mobilization.  Active movement is therapeutic.  In the upper extremities range of motion exercises from the shoulders to the fingers is essential. The same is true for the lower extremities, from the hips to the toes.  People who suffer with serious muscle and joint problems should begin exercising under the direction of a qualified professional.

Inflammation is the culprit in most cases of chronic pain. Several natural anti-inflammatory herbs have shown to be quite effective in alleviating inflammation and thus easing pain. They are with few exceptions side-effect free. They include turmeric, boswelia, ginger, ginseng, and willow bark.

Several other natural products have shown significant effectiveness in the treatment of osteoarthritis.  Glucosamine sulfate, 500 mg 3 times daily, taken with chondroitin sulfate 400 mg 3 times a day improves joint function and eases pain for most people with mild to moderate joint arthritis. Hyaluronic acid has also shown effectiveness.

A very helpful product that has of yet not received as much attention as glucosamine and chondroitin, are the ASUs, (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables).  These products are extracts from avocado and soybean oils.  They are available at health food stores and can be taken in 300-- 600 mg doses is daily.

SAMe, (or s-adenosylmethionine), has proven to be helpful for pain and inflammation associated with arthritis as well as fibromyalgia.  400-500 mg twice a day is optimal for arthritis and fibromyalgia.  However, it is recommended that this product be taken in smaller doses initially to avoid any potential gastrointestinal distress.

5HTP, (5 hydroxytryptophan), capsaicin topical creams, (derived from hot peppers), and blue green algae sources have demonstrated benefit in the treatment of fibromyalgia.  These can also be obtained from health food stores and natural health care practitioners.

In cases of acute inflammation and swelling, proteolytic enzymes such as papain and bromelain can be very effective. They should be taken with professional advice.

It should be noted that natural products to dot work like pharmaceutical analgesics. It often takes several weeks before significant improvements become evident.  When effective, these products are considerably more desirable than NSAIDs or cortisone derivatives, as little or no side effects are associated with them.