As a person who deals with arthritis, you know that your regular prescriptions might not be working as well as they usually do after an especially active day. This pain causes you to look for other pain management options. One of the most common for arthritis patients is topical pain relief, but many patients wonder: Does topical pain relief work? Let’s talk about that.
What is Topical Pain Relief?
Topical pain relief usually consists of creams or gels that you apply to your joints. Your body absorbs the substance through your skin. They also come in sprays or patches that you place on the point of pain. Because your body absorbs topical pain relievers through the skin, they work best for joints close to the skin, such as your hands or knees.
What’s in These Medications?
There are a few different ingredients that could be in topical pain medications that bring you pain relief. Capsaicin is common in these substances. It brings about the burning sensation that you get from chili peppers and depletes your nerve cells of the chemical that’s key to sending pain messages. Salicylates are another ingredient you might find. They contain the pain-relieving substance that’s usually in aspirin. Some products contain lidocaine, which provides a numbing sensation to the area.
Do They Work?
How well topical pain relief works is mainly relative to the patient. Others report pain relief, while others don’t see a difference in their pain levels. Scientifically speaking, research shows that topical medications have modest benefits making it a mild form of pain management. Medical professionals attribute the relief to the placebo effect. Capsaicin proves to be more effective when used with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Are They Safe to Use?
In general, topical forms of pain relief are safe to use. The burning sensation from capsaicin will subside after a couple of weeks of use. However, you should wash your hands after use and avoid touching your eyes or face. Also, do not apply these creams, gels, or sprays to open wounds, irritated skin, or in conjunction with a heating or cooling pad. If you are allergic to aspirin or taking blood thinners, be sure to speak to your doctor before using a topical medication that contains salicylates.
If you’re struggling with arthritic pain and your medication doesn’t seem to be helping as much as you like, contact Tieperman Health and Wellness today! We offer various options for pain management and can speak to you more about your options.