Saunter down the aisles of a drug store's "pain" solutions shelves and you'll not only find pills and liquids, but a bunch of creams the likes of Bengay and others that tout pain-relieving benefits. The problem is, most of those products, with only a couple of exceptions, are what's called "counter-irritants" â€“ they simply stimulate receptors in your skin with the likes of potent (and smelly) menthol that work to block pain signals, confuse your brain, and make you forget about the real pain.
NuMotions is one of several products coming out lately that are different than just smelly menthol. NuMotions has something called (get ready for a mouthful) "cetylated fatty acid creams" that work to really relieve pain rather than just mask it. In fact, studies in peer-reviewed journals (the latest being in the March 2004 issue of Journal of Rheumatology) show the creams are effective â€“ at least in the case of this March study for things like arthritis and improving range of motion in the knee or an ability to go up and down stairs.
We had several testers use NuMotions over a period of months (heck, we have to wait til someone has an owie to test this stuff!). Our testers covered the age gamut, from about 30 to 80, with complaints that covered the range from arthritis, joint stiffness, back spasms, knee creaks and calf or hamstring strains, all of which resulted from everything from everyday life, older age or athletic endeavors.
"What's in this stuff?" asked one Baby-Boomer tester who had been skeptical but became convinced it made his leg pain feel better.
One older tester with knee pain that doctors have had trouble diagnosing said it helped his ability to move around and he liked the fact that it didn't smell strong. "It is a cream formula and it's not greasy, so I like that," he said. "When I start to have the discomfort, I have found the rub-down does definitely help. It seems to eliminate or at least reduce the hurt and limping.Â It is not a cure, but it definitely gives relief, and I would definitely use it as needed."
Another tester who only had fleeting back tightness also thought a few quick-rub-downs helped the spasm go away and definitely helped the day be pain-free. She now packs a tube in her travel bag â€¦ just in case.
So, can we really KNOW the NuMotions helped? Not really. The studies say it helps, and a peer-reviewed journal like the one above won't usually run flaky science. It also feels good, goes on easily, and isn't greasy, so that's all good. Plus, it only has the tiniest hint of menthol so you don't smell for blocks. More positives.
What's bad? Well, one tube, which can last at least 2-3 months, costs $40. Because the product has some science behind it, it is significantly more expensive than the four-buck tubes at the corner market. If it were less expensive and therefore more accessible, we'd give it a much higher rating. It's a personal decision to know how much you're willing to pay to see if you get relief, since some people might and others might not.
Oh, and about the label, if you read it: The active ingredient is listed as menthol (1.25 percent). That's sort of a way around the system, it seems. The FDA has approved a "pain-relieving" claim for menthol so a product can go on the market with less hassle and be MUCH less expensive than if another ingredient were claimed as "active" or responsible for the feel-good stuff that might edge toward drug or medial therapy. The real stuff â€“ all those "cetyl" things -- is under inactive ingredients.
SNEWSÂ® Rating: 3.5 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $39.95 per tube
For more information: www.numotions.com or 1-800-510-FLEX (3539).