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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