Physician: New cream is ‘another tool in my toolbox’

Using feedback from his own patients, Dr. Craig Morton has partnered with an FDA/EPA-certified lab to develop an all-natural product for pain relief

Craig Morton is an outpatient physiatrist, specializing in nonsurgical spine care. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

Rick Hickman

Dr. Craig Morton, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist with Center for Orthopaedics, can sympathize with his patients’ joint and muscle pain.

“Growing up I actually fought a weight issue and in my process of trying to lose weight and understand fitness and diet, I kind of became enamored by how the human body worked,” he said. “I knew I wanted to help people sort of achieve some level of success — whether that was a physical disability or something that was limiting their ability to move or something that was causing pain. That was something I had personal experience with.”

Morton said after graduating from LSU Medical School, he decided to enter the field of physical medicine and rehabilitation. He said he was attracted to the position of a physiatrist because they treat injuries or illnesses that effect nerves, muscles and bone with the goal of decreasing pain and increasing function.

“I want to help people to be as pain-free as can be,” he said.

Morton, who is an outpatient physiatrist, specializes in nonsurgical spine care.

“I was trained in offering interventions for people who have neck and back pain,” he said.

That includes injections, epidurals, nerve blocks and ultrasounds.

“With everyone that comes to see me, my whole goal is to decrease their pain, increase their function and hopefully avoid surgery,” he said. “After talking to them, examining them, maybe looking at imaging, the tools I look at for decreasing pain are going to be medications or injections and then I’m going to do something to help them move — and that could be chiropractic or physical therapy.”

Morton said when it comes to medications, some are good for the short-term, but they have their limitations.

“Most medicines are metabolized through your kidneys or liver so if you have renal deficiency or kidney trouble you might not be able to metabolize some meds, same for the liver,” he said. “Also, some of the anti-inflammatories sold over the counter can cause gastritis reflex, and you can get ulcers. You can get a lot of problems from these medicines we’re trying to give people to help them.”

Alternatives to the oral medicines are warm packs, hot baths, ice packs and massages. Another option is topical analgesics, or pain creams.

“When you have a pain, the nerve sends a signal to the brain that this hurts,” he said. “When you apply a topical analgesic it kind of overrides the pain receptors and it competes for your brain’s attention. You might feel the heat or the ice or the cooling, and it’s competing for the pain signal.”

Morton said he decided to take matters into his own hands — literally — by developing an all-natural product for pain relief.

He said the Food and Drug Administration has recognized three ingredients for topical analgesic creams — menthol, camphor and capsaicin.

“Since that FDA study came out, there have been lots of studies supporting other ingredients for pain that have been used in creams individually, but no one has sort of taken the best of everything and put it in one,” he said. “Because I have so many patients that I am able to see what they’re using and what’s working and what’s not working, I said, ‘Well, why don’t y’all help me come up with a better cream or at least one that can compete as good the best out there.'”

Based on that feedback, Morton said he partnered with an FDA/EPA-certified lab in Miami to launch AcuPlus, an intense cooling and soothing therapy for joint and muscle pain.

“I had them start with the menthol base and then had them infuse all these other ingredients that I felt studies supported helped with pain and tried to create sort of a super cream,” he said. “We went back and forth with it, and I used it on my patients and was getting feedback like how did it feel, how did it smell, how well did it absorb, was it slimy. We went back and forth with the lab about 20 times fine-tuning the formula until I felt it was perfect.”

The cream contains all-natural ingredients — boswellia serrata which provides anti-inflammatory benefits; glucosamine for anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties; willow bark extract for pain relief; magnesium sulfate for pain relief and muscle cramping; and licorice root extract, which is a natural muscle relaxer, topical anti-inflammatory and natural remedy for joint pain.

Morton said the cream reduces swelling and inflammation caused by arthritis, hip pain, knee pain, back pain, neck pain, tendonitis, muscle pain and fibromyalgia.

He said he uses the pain cream as “another tool in my toolbox.”

“It’s helping them bring their pain level down enough to complete their tasks. Some people will want to get complete pain relief with a pain cream or they want complete pain relief with any of these interventions but the reality is a lot of these things took years to happen and there’s no magic pill, per se; it’s a multidisciplinary team approach. The cream is just one tool in the toolbox of pain relief and if it helps them reduce their pain enough to have a better quality of life without the potential side effects of oral medicines then I think it’s done its job of what I was hoping it would accomplish.”

Morton said he is thrilled with the response he is getting from the formula.

“Pain relief is lasting several hours,” he said. “And because it’s all natural, AcuPlus can be applied three to four times a day.”

Morton said he has “a whole laundry list” of other ideas he would like to do.

“This flexes another side of the brain,” he said. “It’s fun to try and come up with solutions that help a lot of people, and we can do that.”

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AcuPlus is registered with the FDA, and is available for purchase online at www.acuplus.com, through Amazon and at Center for Orthopaedics, 1747 Imperial Blvd.

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