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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:
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 Glucosamine 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 Curcumin Notable Very High See all 4 studies
There appear to be decreases in pain associated with curcumin at higher doses (400-500mg) which extend to post-operative, arthritic, and general pain symptoms. This does seems comparable to 2g acetominophen in potency.
grade-b Horse Chestnut Minor - See study
The pain associated with chronic venous insufficiency may be alleviated when that condition is treated by horse chestnut extract.
grade-b Marijuana  
grade-b Serrapeptase  
grade-b Type-II Collagen  
grade-c Agmatine  
grade-c S-Adenosyl Methionine  
grade-c ECA  
grade-c Microlactin  
grade-c Nigella sativa  
grade-c Peppermint  
grade-c Pycnogenol  
grade-c Rose Essential Oil  
grade-c Rose Hip  
grade-c Valeriana officinalis  
grade-c Methylsulfonylmethane  
grade-c Vitamin D  
grade-d Cissus quadrangularis  
grade-d Ashwagandha  
grade-d CBD  
grade-d Pyrroloquinoline quinone  

All comparative evidence is now gathered in our ​A-to-Z Supplement Reference.

The evidence for each separate supplement is still freely available ​here.

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)