Pharmacy & Healthcare

Managing your pain doesn't need to be painful

Ouch! Walgreens experts share the complete guide to managing minor to moderate aches and pains, through a combination of owned brand over-the-counter products and devices.
Steve Rausch, Walgreens Stories
Creams, gels, patches and more—pain relief comes in many shapes and sizes. But finding what works for you doesn’t need to be a pain in the neck (or back). Although over-the-counter (OTC) oral medications still play a major part in pain management, devices and other non-traditional solutions are becoming increasingly popular options.

Danielle Hambrick 
“When you combine an oral OTC analgesic (pain reliever), a topical analgesic and a therapeutic device, you get an approach to pain management that treats symptoms in multiple ways,” says Chicago Walgreens pharmacist Danielle Hambrick. “What that could look like for somebody with lower back pain, for example, is using Walgreens Ibuprofen Softgels to reduce inflammation and internally subdue that pain, then supplementing with a topical Walgreens Lidocaine Patch by applying it directly to the location of the pain, and finally, after removing the topical patch, using a device, like Walgreens Vibration Therapy Multipurpose Wrap to gently stimulate the muscles to contract and relax and increase blood circulation.”

Traditional OTC internal remedies at a better value

The main driver of OTC pain management remains the big two of traditional oral analgesic medications: acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—including aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen—all of which reduce or relieve headaches, sore muscles, arthritis and other mild to moderate aches and pains.

You’re probably familiar with national pain relief brands like Tylenol, Excedrin, Advil, Motrin and Aleve, but these aren’t your only options. Walgreens brand pain relief products are national brand equivalents, meaning they are manufactured with the same active ingredients as national brands, and are subject to the same rigorous review process by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure the product’s safety. Each Walgreens product is labeled with “Compare to” on its package to make it easy to understand its equivalent national brand.

But unlike national brands, Walgreens brand products don’t include a premium price, with most costing 25% less on average. Plus, they are recommended by Walgreens pharmacists and are 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Hambrick recommends acetaminophen alternatives Walgreens Extra Strength Pain Reliever Gelcaps and Walgreens Extra Strength Headache Relief Caplets as alternatives to Extra Strength Tylenol Rapid Release Gelcaps and Excedrin Extra Strength Caplets, and Walgreens Dye-Free Ibuprofen Softgels and Walgreens All-Day Pain Relief as NSAID alternatives to Advil Liqui-Gels and Alleve Caplets.

Topical remedies address pain points directly

While oral NSAIDs and acetaminophen remain the most popular OTC pain treatments, topical and medicine-free remedies are a growing trend in pain management, including some non-traditional options that might not be on your pain treatment radar.
“Patients will often go to the pain relief aisle looking for a traditional medicine that’s worked for them in the past. And sometimes that is the best choice. But there might be a different option that they haven't considered for the type of pain they’re experiencing,” says Hambrick. “There are a lot of effective treatment options out there that many people aren’t aware of, so, I'm a big advocate of involving your Walgreens pharmacist in your healthcare decisions, especially when you're talking about OTC remedies.”
Carissa Castonzo
Carissa Castonzo, Walgreens manager of healthcare owned brands, notes Walgreens now offers an expanded selection of alternative options, including anti-inflammatories like Walgreens Pain Relieving Cream + Turmeric, which also uses turmeric’s natural anti-inflammatory properties in a topical cream to help relieve minor aches and pains associated with sprains, strains, backaches and arthritis, and Walgreens Glucosamine Cream to help support joint health.
For more immediate relief, Walgreens offers a host of topical analgesic medicines, ranging from creams to patches that are applied directly to the pain point (but never to skin that is broken or irritated). Hambrick recommends Walgreens Capsaicin Hot Patch as an alternative to Salonpas Capsicum Hot Patch, Walgreens Diclofenac Gel as an arthritis treatment alternative to Voltaren Arthritis Pain, and Walgreens Cold Therapy Pain Relief Roll On as an alternative to Biofreeze Roll-On.
Some external treatments are newer, but heat therapy is a tried-and-true pain reliever that is effective with an array of different ailments. “Heat is easy to use,” says Castonzo. “Heating pads are reasonably priced and a simple way to provide relief. And now, some of the pads under our Walgreens brand add massage or acupressure to help relieve pain and tension, for an even more effective means of treatment.”
Pain relief left to your own devices

Devices are one of the fastest growing areas of the pain management segment and have become a focal point for Walgreens’ development of a holistic approach to pain relief.

“Pain management is the area where most of our product development lies, the place we’ve really leaned into,” says Andrea Collaro, Walgreens senior director of health and wellness owned brands. “We now offer devices that help relieve pain by delivering electronic stimulation, red light therapy, vibration therapy and even a device that can reduce pain associated with migraines by providing air compression massage to the head.”

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENStherapy blocks pain signals at the source using low-voltage electric currents to gently stimulate the body's nerves with relaxing pulses that provide temporary pain relief associated with sore and aching muscles. Walgreens TENS Therapy Pain Relief pairs multi-use adhesive pads with a controller for multiple sessions of pain relief.

“TENS units are used in a lot of athletic training rooms,” says Castonzo. “It’s an electric stimulator that sends low-level shock-like pulses onto your muscles to intercept pain sensors from reaching your brain and speed up recovery from an injury.”

Red light therapy has been around for more than a century and has recently been generating growing interest for its potential to treat a variety of pain conditions. It is non-toxic and non-invasive, using LED lights in the red and infrared spectrum so there is no damaging UV radiation.

“Red light provides an environment to help cells that are injured or inflamed regenerate and recover faster,” says Castonzo. “We offer a Red Light Therapy Handheld Unit that you can hover over different parts of your body, or we have it in a Multipurpose Red Light Therapy Wrap that you can strap to wherever you're feeling pain.”

Vibration therapy, which is the approach behind the Walgreens Vibrating Massage Ball, addresses pain by providing a low, constant vibration that can be applied directly to the pain point to interrupt the pain receptor, which is a more comfortable option for some people.
Headaches, ranging from minor discomfort to debilitating migraines, can be a, well, real pain. Air compression is the newest treatment option to provide relief. Walgreens Air Compression Head Massager has the look of a virtual reality headset, but it delivers gentle compression through multiple pockets that compress and contract. The user can choose between low and high intensity based on their need.
“OTC remedies—whether they’re medicinal or not—are the most common and most effective ways to treat minor to moderate pain,” says Hambrick. “It’s exciting where new and innovative pain management solutions are going at Walgreens, and to be able to offer so many different options to our customers and patients to help them feel better.”

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