Pain may be described as an alarm triggered upon tissue injury. An analgesic, or painkiller, is a drug used to relieve pain. Body has its own analgesic called endorphins, which have special pain relieving properties. They are naturally found in the brain and distributed through the nervous system.
Sensations in the body are carried through spinal cord along the posterior route. It consists of two divisions- medial and lateral. The medial division handles sensations such as pressure, vibration, movement, position and fine touch where as lateral division handles pain and temperature.
When pain balms are applied, pressure and movement sensations are produced beyond normal levels. This sends more sensory input through posterior route which in effect blocks the pain sensation through the lateral division.
Pain balms generally contain three components- methyl salicylate, menthol and camphor. These easily get absorbed through the skin. Pain balm plays the role of a local anesthetic. These analgesics are chemically similar to endorphins. Though pain balms have a special role in relieving pain, it is the amount of pressure applied and the movement that plays the vital role. Other measures that increases confidence also result in easing of pain.
As against the pain balms, therapeutic measures reduce pain by increasing the level of endorphins.