5 Tips to help when muscular pain strikes
Combogesic – a fast, effective, double-action pain killer that provides 30% more pain relief than taking the maximum dose of either paracetamol or ibuprofen on their own1
When it comes to pain relief, at Combogesic we believe in the power of a great combination.
Combogesic is effective pain relief that combines the power of paracetamol and ibuprofen into one convenient tablet, to make something stronger than taking either ingredient alone.
We’ve brought together a specialist and a GP with the aim of helping you benefit from their combined wisdom. Dr Christopher Jenner, muscular-pain consultant at the London Pain Clinic, and Dr Dawn Harper, GP, have combined their best advice for how to proactively treat muscle aches and pains.
Muscular Pain Specialist Dr Christopher Jenner advises:
“Muscle pain can involve a small area or your whole body, and the pain can range from mild to severe. Although most muscle aches and pains go away on their own within a few days, they can remain for several weeks or even months. Localised pain is most commonly caused by tension, stress, overuse and minor injuries. Pain throughout your whole body, known as systemic muscle pain, is usually the result of an infection or an illness. Pain relief can help you manage the pain while your muscles recover.”
GP Dr Dawn Harper advises:
“Pharmacists are very well placed to advise on the treatment of muscular pain, which can be uncomfortable and frustrating. If you’re debating visiting your GP, here are a few things to consider. Is the pain constant (over the course of 2 to 3 days)? Does the pain arise without any clear or obvious reason? Is the muscle pain accompanied by another condition, such as severe swelling, rash/redness or an elevated temperature? If any of the above ring true, then a visit to your local GP is required.”
Many of us have been in a situation where we’ve overdone it, whether by being overly ambitious at the gym, getting stuck-in with the gardening or straining a muscle when doing some DIY. What often may start as a niggling ache, can progress and become severe if untreated. Whatever the pain you’re in, we’ve pulled together our top tips to help you avoid and manage muscular aches and pains.
Heat therapy can be very effective at relieving muscle pain and helping heal damaged tissue. It can help relax sore and tightened muscles, it can promote blood flow and circulation to the affected area, and it can create a sensation of heat over the affected area which can distract from the feeling of pain. For a small area of pain, like one stiff muscle, you could use a heated gel pack or a hot water bottle. For more widespread pain or stiffness, you could use a steamed towel, a heat wrap, or you could take a hot bath. If the area in question is either bruised or swollen (or both), it may be better to use cold therapy. Heat therapy also shouldn’t be applied to an area with an open wound.
Applying ice and pressure
Whether it’s a bag of frozen peas or a cold spray, applying something cold to a tender and sore area will help numb the pain and reduce the inflammation. The acronym to remember is PRICE:
- Protection – protect the affected area from further injury by using a support or, in the case of an ankle injury, wearing shoes that enclose and support your feet, such as lace-ups. Depending on the severity of your injury, you may want to consider using crutches.
- Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury and rest the affected muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injuring yourself.
- Ice – apply ice wrapped in a damp towel to the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every two to three hours during the two or three days following your injury. Don't leave the ice on your skin while you're asleep, and don't allow the ice to touch your skin directly because it could cause a cold burn.
- Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further. You can use a simple elastic bandage or an elasticated tubular bandage available from a pharmacy. It should be wrapped snuggly around the affected area, but not so tightly that it restricts blood flow. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
- Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling. If your leg is injured, avoid long periods of time where your leg isn't raised.
Effective pain relief
Over-the-counter oral pain relief is a go-to option for acute muscle pain. If required, there are options available in pharmacy to help you step-up your pain relief whilst enabling you to carry on with your day. Whether it’s paracetamol, ibuprofen or a combination of both speak to your pharmacist who can advise on the best treatment plan.
You often see these at the gym, but they can easily be used at home and are very affordable. A foam roller is what can only be described as a padded log. You use it by laying the roller underneath the sore or tender muscle and you simply roll on top of it, allowing the pad to press against the sore or tender muscle. The rolling movement is good for local blood circulation and applies pressure, helping reduce muscle stiffness.
It’s critical to allow your muscles to recover and heal properly after any form of exercise, so this is our preventative top tip. One of the most common mistakes people make is going from 100-0 effort quickly without allowing the muscles to recover and relax. Cooling down also helps the body to dispose of waste products and toxins generated during exercise. The most well-known waste product is lactic acid, which can cause stiffness and cramp the following day if it is allowed to build up. So, if you’ve done more physical exercise than usual, always consider a ‘cool down’. This can either be a moderate walk, simple stretch or a light jog.
1Compared with the maximum over-the-counter doses of standard paracetamol 1000mg & standard ibuprofen 200/400mg
Dr Chris Jenner and Dr Dawn Harper do not endorse Combogesic or any other medicine. Always read the label.
Combogesic should not be taken with other products containing paracetamol, ibuprofen, acetylsalicylic acid, salicylates or with any other anti-inflammatory medicines unless under a doctor’s instruction.