There are many different treatments available to help ease muscular aches and pains, including anti-inflammatory drugs and heat rubs.
Anti-inflammatory tablets can be helpful in reducing the inflammation that contributes to muscle pain. However, use of oral NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) should be avoided in people with aspirin sensitivity, stomach ulcers, or symptoms of indigestion and used with caution in people with asthma, kidney problems and dehydration.
Anti-inflammatory gels and rubs treat the body’s inflammatory reaction to injury, encouraging healing and reducing pain.
Side effects produced by aspirin and oral NSAIDs can, rarely, occur with some anti-inflammatory gels and rubs. Patients with sensitivity reactions to aspirin or other NSAIDs should avoid using products that contain these drugs.
Rubefacients, also called heat rubs, cause blood vessels in the treated area to open and create a sense of warmth, masking the sensation of pain. Massaging the heat rub into the skin provides better penetration and stimulates nerve impulses to the brain, which over-ride the sensation of pain. Those containing salicylates should be avoided by people sensitive to aspirin.
Massage can help relieve muscle pain. Cold packs are often helpful when used within 72 hours of straining a muscle, after this heat packs can be comforting.
Last Reviewed: 11 March 2009