Drugs Q & A

Can I Use Biofreeze While Pregnant?

As your body changes during pregnancy, you’ll feel new aches and pains. Body aches in early pregnancy may be due to hormonal changes. As pregnancy progresses, physical changes can lead to back pain, pelvic pain, round ligament pain, and sciatica.

Although some medicines are considered safe during pregnancy, the effects of other medicines on your unborn baby are unknown. Certain medicines can be most harmful to a developing baby when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

It can be hard to know if a medicine is safe for your baby. Most medicines are not studied in pregnant women. That’s because researchers worry about how the medicines might affect the baby. But some medicines have been taken for so long by so many women that doctors have a good idea of how safe they are.

What is Biofreeze?

Biofreeze is a cooling menthol formula that is fast-acting, long-lasting, and provides penetrating pain relief for sore muscles, backaches, sore joints, and arthritis. Biofreeze comes in a variety of formats, well suited for application on small and large muscle areas. However, this product is not formulated with Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Biofreeze applies easily for penetrating pain relief to body parts such as the back, neck, shoulder, knee, hand, wrist, elbow, foot, and ankle. The theory behind why Biofreeze is effective lies in the “Gate Control Theory.” When the body experiences stress or trauma, certain receptors communicate the feeling of pain to the brain through the spinal cord. The cold feeling resulting from Biofreeze applied to the painful area is assumed to override these pain signals, thus providing relief.

Using cold therapy is also shown to lessen inflammation and swelling, two major causes of joint and muscle pain. Biofreeze may also temporarily manage nerve activity, another contributor to pain.

Biofreeze therapy works similarly to ice in reducing inflammation and improving circulation but offers more powerful, comfortable, convenient, and long-lasting pain relief.

Can I use Biofreeze while pregnant?

Yes, OTC topical products that contain menthol such as Biofreeze are often considered safe to use during all trimesters of pregnancy. However, the manufacturer makes no recommendation regarding use during pregnancy. To be safe, you should talk to your doctor before taking menthol cough drops during pregnancy.

However, there are some combination creams and ointments you should avoid especially at critical times during your pregnancy. Do not take methyl salicylate and menthol cream and ointment if you are in the third trimester of pregnancy. You may also need to avoid methyl salicylate and menthol cream and ointment at other times during pregnancy.

The use of Biofreeze during pregnancy should be approached with caution, and it’s generally recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using it. While there is limited research specifically on the use of Biofreeze during pregnancy, here are some considerations:

1.      Safety Concerns: The safety of using Biofreeze during pregnancy has not been extensively studied. It contains menthol as its active ingredient, and while topical use is generally considered safe, there is still a lack of comprehensive data on its specific effects during pregnancy.

2.      Absorption and Systemic Effects: Although Biofreeze is meant for topical use, a small amount of the active ingredients can be absorbed through the skin. While systemic absorption is generally minimal, it is still advisable to exercise caution, especially during pregnancy.

3.      Sensitivities and Allergies: Some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to specific ingredients in Biofreeze. This can be of particular concern during pregnancy when the body may be more prone to react differently than usual.

4.      Alternative Options: During pregnancy, it is important to explore non-pharmacological pain relief options as the first line of defense.

Beyond medications, there are several other remedies that can help relieve aches and pain during pregnancy, they include:

•          Stay physically fit, walk, and stretch regularly.

•          Wear low-heeled shoes.

•          Sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs.

•          Sit in a chair with good back support.

•          Avoid standing for too long.

•          Bend your knees when picking things up. Do not bend at the waist.

•          Avoid lifting heavy objects.

•          Avoid gaining too much weight.

•          Use heat or cold on the sore part of your back.

•          Have someone massage or rub the sore part of your back. If you go to a professional massage therapist, let them know you are pregnant.

•          Do back exercises that your provider suggests to relieve back stress and maintain a healthy posture.

The extra weight you carry when you are pregnant can make your legs and back hurt.

Your body will also make a hormone that loosens ligaments throughout your body to prepare you for childbirth. However, these looser ligaments are more easily injured, most often in your back, so be careful when you lift and exercise.

Leg cramps are common in the last months of pregnancy. Sometimes stretching your legs before bed will reduce the cramps. Your provider can show you how to safely stretch.

Watch for pain and swelling in one leg, but not the other. This can be a sign of a blood clot. Let your provider know if this happens.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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