So we looked at an alternative to both: Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel – a treatment for muscle and joint pain that goes into the skin around the affected area, and uses cold to interrupt the pain messages going from there to the brain.
Many people prefer treating pain with warmth, so we looked a little closer at Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel to see if there were advantages to cold treatment, and this is what we found.
We’re told that Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel is for soothing minor muscle and joint pain, so its effectiveness really depends on how you’d define “minor” pain. It uses the cooling effect of menthol, which binds with receptors in the skin which are sensitive to temperature and which affect pain signals going to the brain.
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel is available in gel, spray, and roll-on formats, in sizes ranging from 4 ounces to a whole gallon.
We’re told it’s good for four applications a day, each effective for three hours, so there will be times during the day when however much we’d like to use it, we can’t.
One Amazon reviewer found the area they used Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel on started “itching like crazy” and a few days later they still had a lot of tiny itchy bumps there. So there is the potential for reactions, and these can include skin problems, breathing problems, and even life-threatening allergic reactions to the menthol in Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel.
The price varies, depending on who you’re buying it from. We’re going to go out on a limb here and say we don’t recommend Amazon sellers for this product, because we’re not entirely sure what they’re selling is always genuine. That’s judging both from the variations in price and the negative comments from reviewers there.
So we went to Walmart instead, where a 4-ounce tube costs $10.26, and the price increases are proportional to the amount of Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel on offer – all the way up to the gallon jug costing $138.06.
It’s interesting to note that there are many studies linked to the Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel sales website which tell us how well cold treatment works. However, not too far from that link, the website also tells us there’s a certain amount of doubt about how Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel actually works, as in, “When Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel is applied to a painful area, it’s thought to create a cold sensation that overrides these pain signals.” It’s thought?
And if it lasts for three hours per application but we’re not allowed more than four applications each day, we don’t really like the idea of those aches and pains coming back to haunt us until bedtime. But we’ll give the makers of Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel full marks for honesty, because nowhere do they say Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel is for curing the cause of pain. In fact, they go to great lengths to tell us it won’t.
Our verdict? We’d say it depends very much on what you’re using Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel for, and whether that condition would be better dealt with by using heat treatment instead. We’d advise you to check with a health professional before buying a small tube of Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel. If they give you the go-ahead, then great. And if it works for you, even better. But if it doesn’t, as long as you haven’t invested in a gallon jug you haven’t lost out on a whole heap of cash.
Overall, we do not recommend Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel to our readers.
Heat therapy reduces pain by expanding blood vessels to improve the circulation in the afflicted area. It also brings more nutrients there and flushes away waste material, helping the healing process. But then again, it’s not always effective when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Cold therapy can reduce pain and inflammation by making the blood vessels narrower, but it can also make spasms and muscle tension much worse.
Cold therapy can use anything from cold water … to ice cubes … to that bag of frozen peas in your freezer. Then again, if you’re out and about for any length of time in hot weather, carrying around a bag of defrosting farm produce is a lot less convenient than popping a handy 4-ounce tube of Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel into a pocket or handbag before starting out.
For short-term use, that little 4-ounce tube would be a great idea, but perhaps not so if you’re using it for pain relief during any kind of sporting activity: the makers don’t have clear information on whether or not Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel can cause false positives during various drug tests.
Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel over-rides pain signals to the brain through a process known as “Gate Control Theory”, where nerve impulses block the transmission of pain signals along other nerves to the brain.
It doesn’t claim to deal with the causes of pain, but it does claim to provide relief.
As pain relief, yes – but only on a temporary basis. And even though it’s only on a temporary basis, Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel has much less potential for harm than analgesic and opioid medications. But as something to deal with the cause of that pain? No.
WebMD tells us that common side effects of a topical muscle rub with menthol could be stinging or itching of the skin, but the rare side effects are much less pleasant, and can include:
Warning: Flammable. May cause eye irritation. May be harmful if swallowed. Avoid breathing vapor or mist. Wash hands thoroughly after handling. Keep away from heat, sparks, open flames, and hot surfaces. No smoking. Keep out of reach of children.
And there’s one more point we should consider here: some painful conditions can be remedied by alternating heat and cold treatments, and that’s something the makers of Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel insist we shouldn’t do. Makes perfect sense, really – if we apply heat to an area that’s been desensitized with a cold treatment, we might not realize how hot our skin has become until it’s too late and it starts coming up in blisters.
It’s very rare that we find a negative review of any product on the website selling it, so we went to Amazon.com to see what people said about Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel there. And that’s why we’re not that confident those people who’ve left some of the negative reviews actually bought the real thing.
Here are three which made us suspicious:
Tube seemed old. Seems to have separated but expiration date was still good. I have used biofreeze many times before and this tube just didn’t seem to work.
Not like it used to be.
It’s fake. No heat at all. Does not relief the pain.
So once again, we have to say, be very careful when buying any kind of medication or supplement from an online portal like Amazon, because you might not get what you think you ordered.
We also found some reviews on WebMD, including a very happy one from someone who uses Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel for migraines (even though the Biofreeze Q&A says it’s not intended for use on headaches).
That would be down to the store or medical professional who sold it to you.
Since it’s an over-the-counter product, you should be able to find Biofreeze Pain Relief Gel in your local drugstore. You could also buy it direct from your physician or therapist.
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Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.