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You wrack your brain…what did I do? Pick up something too heavy? Did I just move the wrong way? Did I make the wrong dance move at that party? Last night I was feeling fine. Suddenly, here it is again. That gnawing, irritating feeling that someone just put a hot iron on your neck, shoulders, or back. As you gingerly crawl out of bed while trying to decide which pain reliever to grab, you moan, “Here we go again.”

Before you grab something off the drugstore counter for pain relief, you should know what ingredients are included in topical pain relievers and how they work. This can help you make a better choice to get relief for your problem.

You need to decide whether you want a topical painkiller for aching muscles and joints; that is, something that you rub or spray on your skin over the painful area, or whether you want to take something by mouth. Have you ever thought about what ingredients are included in over-the-counter topical pain relief medicine? Most people haven’t given it much thought. There are three main types of relief — counterirritants, salicylates, or capsaicin.

How Counterirritants Work

A counterirritant fools the body by creating inflammation or irritation in one area to draw attention away from the original source of pain you are experiencing. The pain relief comes from stimulating rather than depressing — creating a distraction, as it were, from the first pain.

Salicylates as Antiseptics

Salicylates are found in plants, bark and seeds. They have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects and also lower temperature. Salicylates are also found in food; so you need to have an awareness of what you’re allergic to before you indulge or grab something off the counter. By the way, salicylate is a fancy word. The more common word is “aspirin.”

The Intrigue of Capsaicin

Capsaicin is probably the most intriguing pain reliever because it is found in chili peppers. A variety of sources for topical pain relief include lotions, ointments, gels, and creams. When using capsaicin you may experience a burning sensation at first, but as that fades, it will ultimately bring relief.

What is Best for You

To find your best treatment, not temporary relief that is solved by going to the drug store, read about neurosurgeon Dr. Kelly Kiehm’s treatment of patients with degenerative spinal disorders. His goal is not just to treat, but to educate his patients to understand the “why” of their condition as well as the treatment options available. The practice specializes in minimally invasive spinal surgery. The umbrella of treatment includes lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease, and cervical disc disease. For relief, call Dr. Kelly Kiehm at Capital City Neurosurgery in Columbus, OH.