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What Is Analgesic Liniment?

Liniments can be applied to a horse that has sore legs.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2014
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Analgesic liniment is a preparation designed to be applied topically to the skin. It contains compounds that reduce pain and may also address inflammation. Many drugstores stock analgesic liniment, and this product is also available from pet supply stores for use on animals. Liniments designed for veterinary use should not be applied to people as they can be stronger and may contain irritants that could cause skin blistering, inflammation, and other problems.

Liniments range in texture from lotion-like preparations to thick, greasy balms. These products are designed to be rubbed into the skin and often have a strong odor. Sometimes the scent is the result of compounds like peppermint that have an analgesic effect, and in other products the scent is added because consumers expect liniments to smell strong. Some people find the sharp smell irritating, and it is possible to find unscented products.

Analgesic liniments can be used to address inflammation, aches, and pains such as strained muscles. These products may be used by athletes and other people who have overworked or developed strains in their muscles. Application of liniment may be followed with a supporting bandage in the treatment of issues such as wrist and ankle sprains. Some people also use liniments in the treatment of coughs and colds, applying the compound to the chest.

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These products should be used with care. A strong analgesic liniment can essentially act as a topical anesthetic. While this can indeed reduce pain and soreness, it may cover up symptoms that require medical attention.

In addition, some very strong products may blister or irritate the skin. Someone using a liniment for the first time may want to test with a small dab on the sensitive skin of the inner elbow to determine whether or not the analgesic liniment will irritate the skin. People with allergies should read ingredient lists carefully as liniments contain variable ingredients and can sometimes include allergens.

In veterinary care, liniment is most commonly used on horses. Liniments can be applied to sore legs and may also be used when a horse is being washed and rubbed down after exercise to help the horse cool down. Products designed for horses may be intended for use in dilute form and the directions on the container should be read carefully. Horses can also have reactions to analgesic liniment, and it is advisable to test a product before liberally applying it, especially if it will be used under wraps or a horse blanket.

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bagley79
Post 3

I use a pain gel when I get leg cramps at night. Some of them will stain your clothing, so I had to find one that would not stain the sheets. There is something in this liniment that makes my leg cramps go away so I can sleep.

I have also used a topical analgesic when I feel a migraine headache coming on. Not all of them smell bad as I have found that Activon topical analgesic has a scent that I can tolerate.

Many times with a bad headache, strong scents can make me feel nauseated. It is a good thing this analgesic does not smell bad, or I would not be able to use it to help with my headaches.

I rub this on my temples, neck and shoulders and it does a good job of controlling the pain that comes from this type of headache.

SarahSon
Post 2

@andee - I understand your comment about the smell of the liniment. I have never used any kind of liniment that didn't have a strong scent to it. One I recently used had a touch of lavender added to it. It was better than most, but didn't completely cover up the strong smell.

I have used some Tiger Balm liniment when I have a cold or any respiratory problems. I have found it to work better than other rubs I put on my chest.

This might sound crazy, but if you put some of this on the bottom of your feet, after about 20 minutes, your nose will be less congested. This works for me every time.

If you put this on your feet and wear a pair of socks to bed, you will sleep much better if you have any kind of respiratory problem.

Maybe there is something about the strong scent in an analgesic cream like this that helps them be so effective. Otherwise, I don't think many people would keep using them.

andee
Post 1

My husband has a mentholatum ointment that he uses when he has overworked his muscles. This liniment has a strong mentholatum and wintergreen scent to it.

I think the wintergreen is supposed to have some therapeutic properties, but it also helps offset the strong mentholatum scent.

He likes to apply this after a hot shower and then use a hot towel or compress to really make sure the liniment penetrates into his skin.

Usually by the next morning his muscles are not nearly as stiff and sore. The product works as long as you can tolerate the smell of it.

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