Knee Pain 101 {Pain Management}

Pain Management” is a phrase that drives me crazy.  Anybody who has ever felt pain because of injury, surgery or disease knows that managing pain is not only difficult, but tiresome and exhausting. It doesn’t feel manageable when it hurts.  I have been dealing with knee pain since last February because of a baker’s cyst and a meniscus tear. That pain is under control now because of an extensive regimen I went through to get to my dream vacation in Switzerland, but now I have little aches in pains in other parts of my body that in all probability are associated with that knee pain and the aging process.  Pain management is something I am focusing on as I get older and the more natural the solution, the better I like it. 

There are lots of  pain remedies out there, but whether they work or not is a different story. What works for one person may not work for another. Today, I’m going to talk about topical solutions that can assist with pain management. 

Pain Creams/Lotions/Salves

Using creams, salves, etc. for pain management are effective to a certain degree, even if it’s only for temporary relief.  What you have to keep in mind is that they certainly aren’t cures, but they do provide temporary relief and help to manage the pain. I tried several creams, but there were only a few that provided any relief that made a noticeable difference in managing my pain. Here are ones I used that did work and still use today:

Although Voltaren (Diclofenac topical gel) is a topical cream, it is still considered a drug.  It belongs to the class of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like Ibuprofen, Aleve, etc. It works by reducing pain, swelling and inflammation and because it’s a topical cream, it can be applied where you need it. That works for me because the medication penetrates directly into tissue/joint rather than the gastrointestinal tract, avoiding the harshness of NSAIDS side effects in the stomach. The down side of this gel is that it should only be used for a limited period of time.

Voltaren Review

10 Things You Should Know About Voltaren Gel – Carol Eustice

Proper Use – Mayo Clinic

I initially bought this stuff when we were in Florida on vacation. It’s a lovely cream, but not an instant fix. You have to keep applying it for the relief and be patient. That said, at least I noticed relief, unlike some of the other creams I tried.  The only problem I can report is that this cream is not readily available in Canada except at the Showcase, so if you can’t find it there, you can buy it directly from or from Amazon

I also did some research into the ingredients and was pleasantly surprised. If you want to see the ingredient list, click here. It contains lots of ingredients devoted to inflammation, which makes perfect sense to me: if you decrease inflammation, you decrease pain! 

This stuff is amazing and has worked the best for me out of all the lotions I’ve tried!!  BioFreeze stimulates the cold receptors in the skin and helps reduce pain in a way that’s quite similar to ice application or cryotherapy without the disadvantages of ice. Whether you use the gel, roll-on or spray, Biofreeze takes only second to apply and begins working quickly. I found that heating my shoulder and knee a little bit before applying BioFreeze help enhance the effects of this gel. This is because the heat helps the muscles relax which promotes improved blood flow to the area and ultimately gives faster relief.  I should warn, however, that you should concentrate on one part of your body at a time because you really feel the cold….its like wrapping yourself in a cold blanket!

There are two versions of BioFreeze – the retail version and the professional version.  The difference is that the professional version is a bit stronger (5% menthol) and colorless.  You can mainly buy it from a professional.  I purchased mine through a Chiropractor. The retail version is a bit weaker (3% menthol) and green. I’ve seen the retail version in my grocery store, as well as on Amazon.  Check with your Physiotherapist or Chiropractor to see if they can get it for you cheaper.

When I was looking for a pain “cure” that I could actually make, I came across “tiger balm”.  I found a copycat recipe that sounded really promising because it contained essentially the same ingredients that was in the name brand, but minus the petroleum jelly. The effects of the balm are quite effective due to the active ingredients.  I wanted to know why, so I did some research by purchasing the “real” balm and comparing it to a homemade version I made myself.

I bought the commercial “Tiger Balm” while I was in Florida and found it worked quite well on my shoulder and my husband’s hip. The smell is quite strong, but the cooling effect it left was very soothing after walking all day at Disney World. The balm felt a bit greasy and took some time to absorb, but generally did the trick. Like the rest of the topical ointments I’ve tried, tiger balm is not a cure, but part of general pain management. The ingredients in this stuff are quite amazing individually, but together are quite a powerhouse. You can see what they are here.

 I was excited to see if the homemade tiger balm would work like the original stuff.  I am happy to report that it did, so I will be sticking to my homemade balm. If you want to try it you can find the recipe here. What I like about the homemade version is that the “petroleum” part has been replaced by beeswax, cocoa butter, emu oil and andiroba oil. These ingredients are much healthier and better for your skin.

6 Uses of Tiger Balm – Medical News Toda

DMSO is something I discovered while I was looking for other possibilities to reducing the pain in my knee. I had never heard of it before and was very intrigued. My first impression of this stuff wasn’t that positive until I did some more reading up on it.  It’s a natural by-product of the wood industry that has been used as a commercial solvent since 1953, but its history as a pharmaceutical began in 1961. It was while being investigated as a potential preservative for organs, that it was discovered that it could penetrate the skin quickly and deeply without damaging it.  And so began years of studies and controversy. My interest in DMSO began when I read that when it’s applied to the skin, it is quickly absorbed into the tissues. I found that it brings great relief from pain and inflammation by itself, but I also use it with Voltaren and several pain relieving essential oils to maximize the benefits. See the links below for more information.

I use both a gel and a liquid version that I purchased from Amazon.

More Info on DMSO

             DMSO:  Many Uses, Much Controversy – Maya Muir

DMSO Uses, Benefits – Alternative Medicine Digest

“Miracle cure” controversy and why people should use DMSO for cancer, inflammation and more – Sarka-Jonae Miller

The Untapped Healing Potential of DMSO – Sue Kovach (PDF)

What Is DMSO? – Healthline

DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide) -RxList

User Reviews & Ratings – DMSO

DMSO – The Persecuted Drug (Chapter 6 from the book “Politics in Healing” by Daniel Haley)

DMSO: Called the “Miracle Solution” Relieves Pain, Inflammation; Rapidly Accelerates Healing


Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor, rather I am just talking about what I went through and what I used to help manage my pain in hopes it will give others who are experiencing similar pain issues, ideas to manage their own pain



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