pain relief gels

A pain relief gel is an over-the-counter ointment that is used, as the name suggests, for pain relief. The usage is completely topical and therefore should never be ingested. The main ingredient that is used is menthol that is an anti-inflammatory and helps with the pain by acting as a counterirritant. In this article, we will look into more detail about these gels, how they are used, what they are used for, along with what to be careful about when using these gels.

How Does a Pain Relief Gel Work?

A pain relief ointment has a common ingredient that is known as methyl salicylate or cool of wintergreen. This is what gives the gels a minty smell and also gives a cooling sensation when applied to the skin. As mentioned, the ointment works as a counterirritant which means that it distracts the brain from the pain that you’re feeling.

Depending on the product and the ingredients that it is made of, the gels have a non-inflammatory drug in them. When used, it will reduce the inflammatory reaction that is being felt. Another common ingredient that is also found is capsaicin that comes from chilli peppers, and this is the compound that causes a warming sensation.

Another product that is put in these gels is mint camphor or menthol. This causes a cooling sensation and can actually trick the mind into thinking that the temperature of the skin or of the entire body is decreasing. This feeling desensitises the nerve endings in the body and decreases the arterial blood flow working in the same way that a cold pack or ice may work.

Pain Relief Gel Usage

In this section, we will talk about the different uses of these gels for pain relief for further clarity on what they can be used for. A pain relief gel is used and works best for acute musculoskeletal pain like pain in the muscles, bones, shoulders, legs, etc. and not for chronic pain. This means that it should be used if you have a sore neck or may have pulled a muscle.

Here are some uses of this gel:

Pain relief gel for muscle

Pain relief gel for muscle is the most common usage of these gels. Topical usage can provide relief for sore muscles. Some of the gels can be massaged onto the skin, while others have to be left on after application with no massaging.

Pain relief gel for bones

Pain relief gel for bones is another usage and really helps for those struggling with pain that comes with arthritis. This gel works by blocking the body’s pain receptors and bringing relief.

Pain relief cream for frozen shoulder

Pain relief cream for frozen shoulder can help by reducing the pain, inflammation and discomfort that can come. In time, mobility will return in the frozen shoulder, but if this does not happen, it is best to check with a doctor.

Pain relief cream for legs

Pain relief cream for legs is another common usage of this gel. Leg pain is a common malady that many complain of, especially those that spend a lot of time on their feet at workplaces. This gel can provide great relief from the pain and discomfort to help you keep working.

Pain relief gel during pregnancy

Pain relief gel during pregnancy is extremely important as there are a lot of pains and aches that are common during pregnancy. However, it is recommended that you do not use it during the third trimester as it can be absorbed into the body and thereby cause harm to the child or even cause bleeding during delivery to either you or the baby. Otherwise, too, it is best to use something natural to help with the pain.

You can use this gel for arthritis, minor pains and aches, muscles that are sore or pulled, strains and pains, and in some cases, even pain and discomfort associated with cancer can be relieved with topical pain relief gels.

What to Keep in Mind Before Using a Pain Relief Gel?

Here are some things to keep in mind before you use a gel for pain relief.

  • It is important to tell your health care providers that you are using a gel or an ointment for pain relief.
  • Do not swallow this gel as it is only for topical use. If it is swallowed, it is important to go to the doctor immediately.
  • Do not use a heating device in the same area where you have used this gel.
  • The medicine is also prone to catching fire, so it is advised to not use it while smoking or close to an open flame.
  • Not all gels and ointments work for children, so it is best to consult a doctor before giving it to a child.
  • If you are pregnant or want to be pregnant, speak to a doctor, so you are aware of any benefits and risks before using a pain relief gel.
  • It is also essential to speak to a doctor about using this gel if you are breastfeeding to avoid any risk to your child.
  • If you are allergic to menthol, do not use this sort of gel.

How to Use a Pain Relief Gel?

It is important to use a pain relief gel as is prescribed by the doctor and to follow the instructions that have been given.

  • This gel is topical only, so do not take it by mouth. Use it only on the skin and keep away from your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash your hands before you use this gel and also after you use it. But do not wash your hands immediately if the area being treated is your hand.
  • It is best to clean the affected area before using the gel and also to make sure that the area is dry.
  • Use this gel by putting on a thin layer and then gently run it in.
  • Do not use the gel on damaged skin, scrapes, irritated skin, or open wounds.
  • If you are using a bandage over it, do not tie it on tightly.

Side Effects of a Pain Relief Gel?

While this gel helps with pain and inflammation, like any medicine, there may be side effects that you need to be careful of. Here we will look into this in more detail.

  • Tell your doctor immediately if irritation, warmth, or redness lasts or gets worse. This is because while these symptoms are to be expected with the usage of this gel, it is not normal for this to persist.
  • If this gel has been recommended by a doctor, it would be after judging that the benefits are more than the risk of this for you. Most people do not have serious side effects when using such gels.
  • It is best to stop the usage of this medicine immediately if you have serious side effects like unusual/increased pain or swelling/blistering on the area it is applied on. It is best to contact a doctor immediately.
  • Rare but possible allergic reaction’s symptoms include trouble in breathing, severe dizziness, rashes and swelling and itching on the throat, tongue, or face.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

In this section, we will look at some other instructions and advice to keep in mind with regards to using a pain relief gel.

●    Overdose

As mentioned, it is highly dangerous to swallow this gel. If someone has overdosed on it and is facing severe symptoms like trouble breathing or is passing out, it is best to go to the Emergency Room in the hospital.

●    Missed Dose

If you are using this gel or ointment for pain relief on a regular schedule, it is best not to miss a dose. But if you do miss a dose, it is best to use the gel when you do remember. However, but if you remember near the time you are to use the next dose, it is best to skip the missed dose. It is best not to double the dosage in this scenario.

Do not use two doses or any extra doses at the same time as it is not recommended and can cause more discomfort instead of actually helping you. Most of the time, this gel is used on an as-needed basis but don’t use it more than the doctor has recommended.

●    Storage

It is best to store a pain relief gel at room temperature but keep it away from moisture and direct light. It is not advised to store it in the bathroom. However, different brands have different requirements and instructions for storage. Check the package and store it as is instructed, or you can ask the pharmacists. Keep all such medication far away and out of reach of any pets or children for their safety.

Do not flush these ointments down the toilet or even pour them down a drain unless specifically instructed to do so by a professional. It is best to discard it properly when it has expired, or you no longer have a need for it.

●    Interaction

Gels for pain relief are medicines so they could interact with other drugs or even health issues like any other medication might. Before you use this sort of gel, it is best to tell your pharmacist and doctor about all the drugs and health problems you have.

This is to ensure that it is safe for you to use this gel with all the medication and health issues so that there is no negative interaction. It is also not recommended to start, stop, or even change the recommended dosage of this as any other medicine without consulting a doctor.

●    Stopping Usage

Most topical gels for pain relief should not be used for more than a span of seven days. Using it for a timespan more than is recommended can cause rashes and, in some cases, even chemical burns. If you feel that there are any side effects, the condition is getting worse or your skin is getting irritated, it is best to stop usage immediately.

If you feel that the gel isn’t helping you with the problem, it is best to go to a doctor. A doctor can help to solve the problem and may suggest some other medication or solution to the problem or even a gel for pain relief.


Gels and ointments for pain relief are used for muscle pain, bone pain, sore or pulled muscles, arthritis, etc. The ingredients work as counterirritants and block the pain receptors by causing a cooling and warming sensation—the former works in decreasing the arterial blood flow just as an ice pack would do.

There are many different types of gels, and it is best to find one that suits you best as some may cause allergic reactions for certain people[8] . It is best to be careful and always consult a doctor before using one.


1. What is the best pain relief gel?

There is no gel that is the ultimate best. The best gel is one that works for you, as a gel that works for one person may cause someone else an allergic reaction, or they may be unable to handle amounts of menthol in it. It is best to choose for yourself what works well and try to get something more natural.

2. Do pain relief gels work?

Gels for pain relief do work with minor aches and pains in the body. They act as counterirritants and causes your skin to feel cool and warm, thereby distracting from the pain and acting as an anti-inflammatory.

3. What’s the best muscle rub for pain?

There is no best muscle rub for pain that works for all people. What works for one person may not work for another, so it is best to find one that suits you best and is natural.

4. What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory?

Natural anti-inflammatory ingredients like curcumin, fish oil, resveratrol can be added to your diet with food or with supplements. For topical usage, menthol is an anti-inflammatory and is therefore found in a pain relief ointment.

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