Comfort Arthritis Pain With Topical NSAIDs

Application of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the form of creams, gels and patches may offer relief from the pain accompanying osteoarthritis of the knees or hands, according to The Cochrane Library.

This is actually better than undergo surgical operations. Other type of osteoarthritis affects the hip, and cases of metallosis have been reported against metal-on-metal hip implants like that of Stryker hip device recall. There are also other complaints by its recipients such as inflammation and pain.

While oral NSAIDs are usually used in dealing with musculoskeletal pain, critics wanted to inspect the efficacy of the topical variety for treating pain for longer than eight weeks.

A team of reviewers assessed 34 studies involving 7,688 adults with chronic musculoskeletal pain for a period of at least three months. Participants were categorized into groups using either a topical NSAID applied at least once daily, such as diclofenac, ketoprofen, indomethacin, and ibuprofen; a placebo or an oral NSAID.

They discovered that the topical NSAID diclofenac was as effective as oral NSAIDs for arthritis in the knee or hand and it gave more participants good pain relief compared to the placebo in studies lasting eight to 12 weeks.

In four studies, for instance, diclofenac gave 60 percent of participants’ pain relief over eight to 12 weeks rather than 50 percent of those in the placebo group.

Lead reviewer Sheena Derry, Ph.D., of the Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Oxford in the U.K., clarified, that the use of topical formulations is limited to conditions where the pain is close to the surface.

“The benefit of topical over oral NSAIDs is that with topical, the drug stays close to the site of application, so levels in blood and more remote tissues remain very low. This means you don’t get the gastrointestinal problems that are associated and cause so many problems with oral NSAIDs,” Derry said.

Roger Chou, M.D., an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health and Science University and expert in pain management, said that the results of the review were similar to his former research.

“I think one thing to remember is that for topical medications to work, (the pain) has to be fairly localized. It would be tough to use these NSAIDs for fibromyalgia where the pain is all over the body, or back pain, where the pain is typically in the deeper structures,” Chou expressed.

She is a professional medical researcher, covering news about hip replacement operations. Her recent articles talk about Stryker-related problems. If you want to know more, you may check out Stryker hip replacement recall at

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