How Do Topical Pain Relievers Work?

How Do Topical Pain Relievers Work?

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Health, Updated On
May 3rd, 2024

Pain is an unfortunate part of daily life for many people. Whether chronic and persists over a long period of time or acute and comes on suddenly, it can be debilitating and interfere with everyday activities. Pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including injuries, illnesses, or the natural process of aging.

How Do Topical Pain Relievers Work?

Pain Relief

Various treatments are available for pain relief, including medication, surgery, and other therapies. However, the best approach to pain management varies from person to person and may require a combination of treatments.

Some people find relief from over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Others may require prescription medications, such as opioids or antidepressants. Surgery may be necessary for certain types of pain, such as that from a tumor or a nerve problem.

Other therapies, such as physical therapy, acupuncture, or massage, may also help manage pain. Working with a doctor to find the best approach for you is essential.

If you are experiencing chronic or acute pain, please talk to your doctor about managing your symptoms. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but many options are available. You don’t have to suffer in silence—there is help available.


Topical pain relievers are medications that are applied directly to the skin. They work by blocking signals from the skin to the brain.

One of the most popular topicals is Tiger Balm. Tiger Balm is a topical analgesic ointment initially created in the late 1800s in Asia. The ointment is made with a base of herbal ingredients, including camphor, menthol, and clove oil, which create a cooling and soothing sensation when applied to the skin.

Tiger Balm is available in cream and ointment form and can be used to treat a variety of ailments, including arthritis symptoms, headaches, and muscle aches. It can also relieve soreness and stiffness associated with pregnancy and can be applied to the chest to help clear congestion and breathe more easily.

Tiger Balm is a popular over-the-counter product available at most drugstores. It is safe and effective for various conditions and can be used by both adults and children.

There are many different types of topical pain relievers, including:

  • Analgesics, such as ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Local anesthetics, such as lidocaine and benzocaine
  • Counterirritants, such as camphor and menthol
  • Muscle relaxants, such as cyclobenzaprine

Analgesics are the most common topical medications. They work by blocking the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause pain and inflammation. Ibuprofen is an analgesic that is available over the counter. Aspirin is also an analgesic, but it is available only by prescription. Prescription topical medications include fentanyl, lidocaine, and bupivacaine.

Local anesthetics work by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain. They are used to offer relief from injuries, surgery, or childbirth. Lidocaine is the most common local anesthetic. It is available over the counter or by prescription.

Lidocaine numbs the affected area when injected. It is effective for relieving discomfort from toothaches, sore throats, and skin wounds. Lidocaine may also be used to alleviate pain during childbirth.

Counterirritants are medications that work by causing a mild irritation of the skin. This irritation blocks the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Camphor and menthol are the most common counterirritants. They are available over the counter and often used to treat the discomfort caused by conditions such as arthritis, muscle aches, and headaches.

Muscle relaxants work by blocking the transmission of signals to the brain. They are used to relieve pain from muscle spasms. Cyclobenzaprine is the most common muscle relaxant. It is available by prescription.

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