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Adrienne Dellwo

Overlooked Treatments - Pain Creams & Patches for Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS Pain

By August 28, 2008

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We all know that common painkillers don't do a heck of a lot for the pain we get from fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS). And when you take heavy-duty pain meds, SNRIs, or other drugs that can pose an interaction risk, what can you do when your pain still isn't under control?

A lot of people overlook pain creams and patches. These are things you apply directly to where it hurts, and they generally have very few side effects. A real plus is that you can use them on top of whatever meds you're already on without fear of interaction or overdose. While they're probably not going to work as your first line of defense, they can be a very useful pain-management tool. (Still, you should talk to your doctor, be familiar with any side effects, and start with small amounts to make sure you're not allergic to anything.)

  • Capsaicin, which has long been used for arthritis pain, has shown itself successful against fibro pain in at least one study (which makes sense, since it takes all the pain messengers - called substance P - away from your nerve cells, so they can't send more messages!) Capsaicin frequently helps me get through painful times without taking drugs.
  • Muscle creams, such as Tiger Balm and Aspercreme, probably won't do much for fibro pain, but they can do a whole lot for muscle and joint aches. I use creams a lot for my myofascial pain syndrome, and getting rid of that pain helps calm FMS.
  • Pain patches have made the news a lot because some proved to be dangerous and were pulled off the shelves. A lot of safe ones are still on the market, though, and let me tell you - they recently helped me get through a 10-hour car trip! (Like muscle creams, they're generally better for non-fibro pain.)

I'd love to hear about your experiences with pain creams and patches! Leave your comments here or in About.com's Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome forum.

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August 29, 2008 at 6:12 pm
(1) Wendy says:

I use a cream called Topricin. I bought it at Wegman’s in their section of vitamins, homeopathic medicines and such. It costs about $20 for 4 ounces. You massage the cream in starting about 2-3″ above the sore spot and apply to about 2-3″ below. It really does work, for a variety of aches and pains. (http://www.topricin.com/)
I also use O24 fibromyalgia. This is a spray made of herbal extracts, is available at regular pharmacies for about $20 for 1 fluid ounce. I LOVE the smell (very strong Camphor, Eucalyptus, Lemon and Orange oils, peppermint and Rosemary) but it bothers my husband. (In the winter I actually go outdoors and roll my pants legs up in freezing weather to apply it, then wait for the odor to dissipate somewhat.)(http://www.024zone.com/fibro.html) This product works well, too.

August 29, 2008 at 6:41 pm
(2) VaBreeze says:

I’ve used Lidocaine patches with great results. Also, there is a cream that a chiropractor gave my husband, all natural, and it works well. It’s called Sombra. I have used the Capsaicin cream, but it was so strong that it burned my skin.

August 29, 2008 at 6:44 pm
(3) Wendy Kolb says:

I use a cream called Topricin. You massage it in, starting about 2-3″ above the sore point and go to about 2-3″ below the spot. Works pretty well for assorted aches and pains. I got it at Wegmans in their vitamin/homeopathic medicine area. It runs about $20 for 4 ounces.
I also use o24 Fibromyalgia. It is a spray made from herbal extracts that you spray on then massage in. I really like the smell but it bothers my husband. (very strong smell…has camphor,eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon andf orange oils and rosemary essential oils. Oddly enough this does not trigger my typical mult. chem. sensitivity reaction eg: clogged up head, headache,cough, feeling like I cannot breathe.) Also About $20 for one fluid ounce.

August 30, 2008 at 7:17 pm
(4) Sandi K. says:

I have suffered with chronic daily headaches for 25 years. HeadOn is a miracle for me. It has become my first line of defense. The beauty of it is that you can carry it in your purse & use it anywhere. It comes as a small discrete rollon nor much larger then a tube of lipstick. I have even used it in Church. The other things I find helpful are the Theracare hot packs & cold stick on pads. My use of pain meds. has decreased significantly.

September 1, 2008 at 7:42 pm
(5) Judy says:

I have used a Veterinary Liniment with aloe vera named Horseman’s Dream. I know it sounds weird, but it helps. You can get it at feed stores and some drug stores.

September 1, 2008 at 7:44 pm
(6) Judy says:

Also, Perform is a cool pain relieving gel.

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