Do Patches For Pain and Inflammation Work?

Ever wonder if transdermal patches that claim to combat pain and inflammation and help you recover quicker actually work?

I’m calling bullshit on these transdermal patches for 3 reasons:

  1. No where can I find a complete list of active ingredients on these products. All they say is turmeric, ginger, curcumin, vinegar, and 200 other natural remedies…WTF are these other 196 magical ingredients. Any product that does not tell you ALL the ingredients is usually a steaming pile of garbage.
  2. In the event hell freezes over and they actually did tell you all the ingredients there is another big problem. There is no way in god’s green earth you could fit an efficacious dose of each ingredient into the size of patches they use. It would have to be a body condom patch three feet wide. Can someone say #staypuffedmarsmallowman.
  3. They will claim studies showing that skin temperature decreases after applying a patch. For Christ sakes, they can take their shitty study and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine. That is because skin temperature is loosely, and I mean really loosely associated with pain and inflammation. If they really wanted to do a legit test that would have drawn blood samples and tested for things like creatine kinase and other markers of inflammation. But if they did that they would find what we already know. These patches don’t work

So, what’s the best way to combat pain and inflammation? Rest and recovery days, periodized training, and proper nutrition.

You need to get the idea out of your head that ACUTE inflammation is a bad thing because it is NOT. It helps with adaptations to exercise to help you get better.

When you pop NSAIDS and take ice baths after hard days you are not allowing your body to adapt to the stresses put on it. Chronic inflammation is a different story, but we will save that topic for another day.

About the author:

Matt Mosman (MS, CISSN, CSCS) is a research scientist, endurance athlete, and the founder and Chief Endurance Officer at EndurElite. Matt holds his B.S. in Exercise Science from Creighton University and his M.S. in Exercise Physiology from the University of California. Matt and his family reside in Spearfish South Dakota, where they enjoy running, mountain biking, camping, and all the outdoor adventures Spearfish has to offer.