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Introduction to Japanese Pain Relief Patches

I love massage. Who wouldn’t? When I lived in Bangkok, I never had stiff shoulders or back pain as I had Thai massage for $4 an hour almost every second day. I didn’t have to use Japanese pain relief patches. The moment I felt the slightest pain in my shoulders, my favorite massage parlor was only 50 meters away. Here in Tokyo, I could only dream of doing that. Instead, I’ve become addicted to Japanese pain relief patches or shippu (湿布) in Japanese. Diamond maybe a girl’s best friend, but shippu is every computer worker’s life savior.

A short visit to any drug shop in Japan will attest the country’s love affair with shippu. An amazing  variety exists in terms of type (hot or cold), size and price. Almost everyone I know has their own favorite brand and is ready to explain how effective their shippu is.

How should we choose shippu? There are a few things you should consider in buying Japanese pain relief patches.

Japanese Pain Relief Patches

The Magic of Japanese Pain Relief Patches

1. Types of Pain – Sudden or Chronic?

It’s important to choose shippu according to the type of pain you suffer from. Firstly, there are in general two types of pain – sudden pain and chronic pain. The former is the kind of pain that develops due to straining muscle by engaging in some activities, while the latter refers to pain that has persisted for a length of time. Shippu that works for the former type of pain may not work for the latter type.

2. Types of Japanese Pain Relief Patches – Relief or Block?

In general, there are two types of shippu. Some shippu are designed to relieve pain, and the other type works to block pain. The first type contains ‘weak’ ingredients, such as methyl salicylate, and thus the pain relieving shippu tends to be less strenuous on your body. The pain block type consists of powerful ingredients, such as indomethacin, felbinac and diclofenac sodium (aka. voltaren). While the pain blocker is quite effective, the chance of side effect is higher. It’s thus advisable not to use this type if you are pregnant or suffering from asthma.

3. Choosing Shippu  – Cold or Warm?

If your pain is the sudden type, the stronger type of shippu is often recommended. If you have a chronic pain, then, the chemist at a drug store might recommend a weaker type as you’ll want to use on a more regular basis. If you have sensitive skin, try to avoid patches that contain ingredients such as capsaicin.

Another very popular questions is “should I go for a cold or warm one?” The common wisdom has been to use cold shippu for the sudden pain and warm shippu for the chronic pain. However, doctors often say that shippu doesn’t really ‘cure’ stiff shoulders or back pain. They thus tend to advise: “use whatever makes you ‘feel’ good”.

4. Popular Japanese Pain Relief Patches

There are just so many brands of Japanese pain relief patches to choose from. What works for me may not work for everyone, so explore a few patch brands and see which ones work best for you. For your future reference, here is the ranking of popular patches in Japan by Yahoo Japan.

#1 Hisamitsu | Nobi Nobi Salonship S
#2 Daiichi Sankyo | Patex Usupita Shippu 48 Patches
#3 Nichiban | Roihi Tsuboko 156 Patches
#4 Medicine Plus | Bitatoreru Cool Bihara U 24 Patches
#5 Kowa | Banterin Kowa Pappu Hot 24 Patches
#6 Medicine Plus | Bitatoreru Shinpa Felbinac 24 Patches
#7 Yakuoh Seiyaku | Omunido FB Plaster α Cool 40 Patches
#8 Eisai | Naborin Felbinac 70 20 Patches
#9 Takamitsu | Cool Refenda 30 Patches
#10 Hisamitsu | Facetas 5

Here is a short list of Japanese pain relief patches available at Takaski (for more, visit here). If you need some advice on which patch to go for, chat to us on our live chat. Look for a small icon that says “Chat to us” on the bottom right hand side on your screen.