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Pain

Pain is the adverse sensation associated with injury, arthritis, and various forms of nerve injury that impairs well being and day-to-day living. Supplements may either universally reduce pain, or may alleviate the pain associated with a disease state.

Our evidence-based analysis on pain features 29 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel.
All content reviewed by the Examine.com Team. Published: Jul 5, 2013
Last Updated:

Frequently Asked Questions about Pain

Does aspartame cause headaches?
Why do my muscles get sore?
Supplementing for better joint health
A quick look at supplements proven to possibly help you with joint pain.

Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect pain
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Minor Very High See all 8 studies
There appears to be a decrease in pain, with one meta-analysis noting that over the long term it account for "a 13 point reduction on a scale of 0-100". Although present, it is not as effective as most painkillers and may be exclusive to osteoarthritis
grade-b Notable Very High See all 13 studies
There decreases in pain associated with curcumin at higher doses which extend to post-operative, arthritis, and general pain symptoms. In particular, curcumin has been researched for osteoarthritis the most, but many of these studies are of low quality and funded by industry, so caution is warranted.
grade-b Minor - See study
The pain associated with chronic venous insufficiency may be alleviated when that condition is treated by horse chestnut extract.
grade-b Minor Very High See all 4 studies
There appears to be a reduction in pain associated with the dose of marijuana which confers psychoactive effects.
grade-b Minor High See all 5 studies
When a decrease in inflammation occurs post surgery, there appears to be a concomitant reduction in pain; it tends to hover around a 1 point reduction on a VAS scale (scale of 1-10).
grade-b - - See all 5 studies
grade-c Notable - See study
In the trial on lumbar disc-associated radiculopathy, the degree of pain alleviation was fairly notable relative to placebo and persisted for two months after supplementation was ceased. No reference drug comparisons, unfortunately
grade-c Notable Very High See 2 studies
The decrease in pain associated with osteoarthritis appears to be similar to the reference drugs Aleve (Naproxen) and Celecoxib, but requires more time to act (up to one month)
grade-c Minor - See study
At least in persons with upper respiratory tract infections, a possible analgesic effect of ephedrine with aspirin exists
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Possible pain reduction associated with reducing symptoms of osteoarthritis, with one study suggesting comparable efficacy to glucosamine sulfate
grade-c Minor - See study
Pain as a side-effect of rheumatoid arthritis is modestly reduced.
grade-c Minor - See study
Pain has been noted to be reduced in instances where pain is associated with tightened intestinal tissue (ie. during a colonoscopy) or during tension headaches. No inherent analgesic effect is known
grade-c Minor - See study
A reduction in pain secondary to improvements in symptoms of osteoarthritis has been noted, and while notable in this certain instance it is not certain if there are inherenet analgesic effects
grade-c Minor - See study
Inhalation of rose may confer pain relieving properties in emergency situations, although potency relative to other agents is not assessed
grade-c Minor Moderate See all 4 studies
Pain is reduced alongside improvements in osteoarthritic and rheumatoid arthritis, and at least one study (cohort) noted benefits in persons without these diseases yet with high labour jobs. No studies in athletes to assess the analgesic properties yet.
grade-c Minor - See study
Menstrual pain appears to be reduced with supplementation of low dose valerian extracts.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on pain symptoms in osteoarthritis
grade-c - - See study
grade-d Notable - See study
Joint pain appears to be reduced following supplementation of cissus, and while the magnitude is not remarkable (respectable, but comparable to other supplements) it seems to be one of the few validated in athletes with nonpathological joint pain.
grade-d Minor Very High See 2 studies
A decrease in pain has been noted with supplementation of ashwagandha root during chemotherapy and in osteoarthritis.
grade-d Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Studies are very preliminary, with only one being randomized, and all being small with short treatment durations.
grade-d Minor - See study
In persons with sleep disorders taking PQQ (which improved sleep) there were reductions in pain ratings at the end of the trial

References

  1. Evaluation of Consumer Complaints Related to Aspartame Use.
  2. Maher TJ, Wurtman RJ. Possible neurologic effects of aspartame, a widely used food additive. Environ Health Perspect. (1987)
  3. Kühn R, Graner H, Soukup P. {Experiences in the expert evaluation of nucleus pulposus prolapse}. Beitr Orthop Traumatol. (1975)
  4. Aspartame ingestion and headaches.
  5. Levy PS, Hedeker D, Sanders PG. Aspartame and headache. Neurology. (1995)
  6. Roberts HJ. Aspartame and headache. Neurology. (1995)
  7. Schiffman S. Aspartame and headache. Neurology. (1995)
  8. Newman LC, Lipton RB. Migraine MLT-down: an unusual presentation of migraine in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches. Headache. (2001)
  9. Pisarik P, Kai D. Vestibulocochlear toxicity in a pair of siblings 15 years apart secondary to aspartame: two case reports. Cases J. (2009)
  10. Smith LL, et al. The effects of athletic massage on delayed onset muscle soreness, creatine kinase, and neutrophil count: a preliminary report. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. (1994)
  11. Hultman E, Spriet LL, Söderlund K. Biochemistry of muscle fatigue. Biomed Biochim Acta. (1986)
  12. Westerblad H, Allen DG, Lännergren J. Muscle fatigue: lactic acid or inorganic phosphate the major cause. News Physiol Sci. (2002)
  13. Cairns SP. Lactic acid and exercise performance : culprit or friend. Sports Med. (2006)
  14. Westerblad H, Allen DG. Recent advances in the understanding of skeletal muscle fatigue. Curr Opin Rheumatol. (2002)
  15. Cheung K, Hume P, Maxwell L. Delayed onset muscle soreness : treatment strategies and performance factors. Sports Med. (2003)
  16. Tokmakidis SP, et al. The effects of ibuprofen on delayed muscle soreness and muscular performance after eccentric exercise. J Strength Cond Res. (2003)
  17. Rahnama N, Rahmani-Nia F, Ebrahim K. The isolated and combined effects of selected physical activity and ibuprofen on delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Sports Sci. (2005)
  18. Zainuddin Z, et al. Light concentric exercise has a temporarily analgesic effect on delayed-onset muscle soreness, but no effect on recovery from eccentric exercise. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. (2006)
  19. Aminian-Far A, et al. Whole-body vibration and the prevention and treatment of delayed-onset muscle soreness. J Athl Train. (2011)
  20. Bakhtiary AH, Safavi-Farokhi Z, Aminian-Far A. Influence of vibration on delayed onset of muscle soreness following eccentric exercise. Br J Sports Med. (2007)
  21. Sellwood KL, et al. Ice-water immersion and delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med. (2007)
  22. Paddon-Jones DJ, Quigley BM. Effect of cryotherapy on muscle soreness and strength following eccentric exercise. Int J Sports Med. (1997)
  23. Mendiguchia J, Brughelli M. A return-to-sport algorithm for acute hamstring injuries. Phys Ther Sport. (2011)
  24. Heiderscheit BC, et al. Hamstring strain injuries: recommendations for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. (2010)
  25. Kuenze C, Hart JM. Cryotherapy to treat persistent muscle weakness after joint injury. Phys Sportsmed. (2010)
  26. Hubbard TJ, Denegar CR. Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury. J Athl Train. (2004)
  27. Zainuddin Z, et al. Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function. J Athl Train. (2005)
  28. Shimomura Y, et al. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. (2010)
  29. Herbert RD, de Noronha M, Kamper SJ. Stretching to prevent or reduce muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. (2011)