Whether you pulled a muscle, sat for too long, or bent over the wrong way, lower back pain can quickly become debilitating. Stretching and gentle strengthening exercises can help protect your back from chronic pain, but if you’re suffering in the moment, you need immediate relief. Using a pain relief cream is one of the quickest ways to feel better and get back on your feet, and capsaicin cream — made from the active ingredient in chili peppers! — is an effective treatment you may not have heard of.
When applied to the skin, capsaicin cream decreases pain in the area by inhibiting the function of nerve receptors, according to research from the British Journal of Anaesthesia. Many members of the medical community believe that with repeated use, capsaicin can provide long-lasting pain relief.
Though creams with capsaicin can get pricey depending on the ingredients, we’ve found several that are budget-friendly and high quality.
The Least-Expensive Pain Relief Cream With Only Capsaicin
If you’d like to try this pain relief cream for yourself, we recommend Rugby Capsaicin Cream (Buy from Walmart, $7.38). It has a concentration of 0.025 percent capsaicin, which is standard. (Most capsaicin creams on the market are between 0.025 and 0.1 percent.)
If you’ve never tried capsaicin cream before, the lowest concentration might be the perfect place to start. While many of us tend to think that a stronger dose will provide better results, capsaicin needs to be diluted, because it can easily cause irritation.
Other Capsaicin Cream Options
Some capsaicin products also contain menthol (mint camphor), a traditional pain reliever that provides a cooling sensation. Products that include both ingredients may offer better pain relief for a backache. For an easy-to-use option, try Capzasin Quick Relief Gel (Buy from Walmart, $11.98). It contains an 0.025 percent concentration of capsaicin and a 10 percent concentration of menthol.
If you’re worried about accidentally touching your eyes while applying a cream or a gel (ouch!), a patch may work better. The Salonpas-Hot Capsicum Patch (Buy from Amazon, $31.31) is sold in packs of 12 and promises fast-acting relief. Each patch contains a capsaicin concentration of 0.025 percent.
If you’ve tried a low concentration of capsaicin and want to test something stronger, move up to the Zostrix Maximum Strength Natural Pain Relief Cream (Buy from Walmart, $16.94). The capsaicin concentration is 0.1 percent.
No matter what product you choose, use a small amount to start, and gradually add more as needed. (Remember to always wash your hands after applying!) Capsaicin cream can cause skin irritation and redness. In very high concentrations – like a prescription patch – it could even cause swelling and skin blisters. And if your back pain doesn’t improve, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor. With a little extra TLC, hopefully you’ll get the relief you need!
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