One of my most common complaints is tension in my neck, shoulders and upper back. Sometimes the inflammation is so bad that I can't sleep because I am preoccupied with the burning in my shoulders. I see an acupuncturist and a chiropractor regularly (who also remind me regularly it is a result of stress), do yoga, take hot baths, use a heating pad, and get massages. I have also tried every over the counter remedy known to man. And, until recently, I couldn't find anything natural that relieved the pain. It seemed like it was pain killers and ointments full of chemicals or nothing.
When I started to study Ayurveda, one of the most brilliant, simple things I was taught to incorporate into my daily routine was abhyanga, or self massage. Depending on your preference, you can use sesame, almond or coconut oil to massage all of the muscles and joints in your body from head to toe. I wrote about this in detail a few days ago, with how to videos and links to the oils etc. It is a great way to get ready for the day ahead or before bed if you have trouble sleeping. But, I find that sometimes it just isn't enough to get rid of the inflammation.
During our course at Kripalu, one of our teachers introduced us to mahanarayan oil, an organic, sesame oil infused with herbs. It is great for achy muscles and joints and the beauty of it is that I don't smell like I am in the locker room when I am wearing it. Sometimes I also follow it with a hot bath with ginger powder and baking soda (1/2 cup each). This is a little secret I learned in Dr. Vasant Lad's book The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies. It's full of great little secrets like this. I highly recommend it.