Heat is always my first thought. I find it comforting, and in many cases it really does help ease muscle pain. After my back was broken, the physical therapist used electrical stimulation and a marvelously heavy heating pad, and the relaxation, pain relief and just plain comfort it gave me was wonderful. I use a similar large gel-filled pad when the polymyalgia makes the large leg muscles hurt too much, and it always seems to make me feel better (is some of this just in my head? and if it is, do I care?). But I was quite interested in a recent mailing from the Trigeminal Neuralgia Association on the use of cold to affect nerve pain. It talks about cold, both as the familiar ice-pack sort of cold and also as a chemically induced sensation. You can check it out at www.endthepain.org
. Of course many of the old liniments contained things like menthol, which have a cooling sensation.
I wondered how many people here have tried the capsaicin creams as a regular treatment. I used Zostrix a lot in the earlier years of my tn, and believe that it prolonged the remissions which I had at first. I could give myself a little break from the tegretol that I was on at the time by applying the ointment several times a day. I never minded the burning sensation, not even when it really heated up in a shower or while cooking at a hot stove. I did mind a lot when it strayed into sensitive areas around my nose and mouth and eyes. Something that did the same job but wasn't as messy to use and as likely to transfer to tender tissues would probably still be helpful.
Even if research shows that cold applications are useful, and products become available, I won't give up my hot water bottle or my heating pad though! Since my house is only heated with a woodstove, and Maine winters are windy and cold, what could be nicer than a warm puppy and a hot water bottle?