Overview of Topical Pain Medications for Pain Relief

03 Oct Overview of Topical Pain Medications for Pain Relief

Topical pain medications for pain relief are dramatically on the rise in America. This is due to the fact there are now quite a few options available for topical use along with new studies showing just how well these medications work for various indications.

The first thing that should be understood with topical medications is there is a significant difference between medications designed to provide regional pain relief versus those that are meant to get into the bloodstream. None of the medicines discussed here are the ones designed to significantly enter into the bloodstream.

Here is an overview on five separate medications that have shown benefits for local pain relief and are commonly used by pain management doctors in Santa Ana and Orange County. The first is a lidocaine patch. The 5% lidocaine patch consists of an adhesive material that is placed on the skin and allows for the slow release of the numbing medicine to get into the immediate area. The patches are various sizes it can be cut to fit where needed.

The initial indication for these patches was for post herpetic neuralgia, however, they have grown to help other indications such as for RSD, post amputation pain, post thoracotomy syndrome, complex regional pain syndrome along with other musculoskeletal conditions.

These include degenerative osteoarthritis along with low back pain and myofascial pain syndrome. Because of their numbing action, they have come in handy for relieving pain of complex regional pain syndrome and RSV. The patch must be placed directly over the site of pain and needs to be replaced approximately every 24 hours.

The second topical medication that has seen a boost in popularity over last few years is NSAIDS. NSAIDS are available as a gel, cream or patch and come in various concentrations. They also are applied right over the painful area and are able to penetrate into muscles, tendons and subcutaneous tissues for providing pain relief.

The best thing about these medications is they do not provoke any of the well-known side effects of anti-inflammatory use such as G.I. side effects or problems with the kidneys. These topical NSAIDS have proven to be extremely effective for arthritis, tendinitis, ligament injury and other musculoskeletal conditions.

While they have a slower onset of action, due to their safety profile and effectiveness they are immensely growing in popularity. Options include ibuprofen, diclofenac, ketoprofen and others so far.

The third current option for topical pain medication includes Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the active component found in chili peppers and acts as an irritant that actually decreases painful sensations. Studies have looked at the effectiveness of capsaicin have shown it to be effective with diabetic neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia pain.

The fourth medication that has been shown to be helpful topically is steroid known as dexamethasone. This is commonly used in the physical therapy setting for osteoarthritis, tennis elbow, planter fasciitis and tendinitis.

The medication is placed on the skin and pushed through the soft tissues with a procedure called iontophoresis. Unfortunately, it is not feasible for patients to have one of these machines at home so this medication is really only mentioned for common knowledge.

The fifth medication for topical use is known as arnica. This is an herb that is available in many health food stores and does not require a prescription. There have been multiple studies looking at Arnica gel topical treatment and both have shown that it works well for moderate osteoarthritis. One study was done on hip/knee/back pain and the other was done on the hands.

So when it comes to topical medications for pain relief, it is now widely known that these medications have extremely low side effects and are effective in treating many painful conditions. Many Orange County pain management doctors offer topical pain medications along with the typical oral ones along with interventional pain management treatments to round out the options available.

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