How good are topical NSAIDs?

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are routinely prescribed for mild to moderate pain and are the most commonly prescribed painkilling drugs worldwide. Applied to the skin, so in a topical preparation such as a gel, cream or plaster, they can act where needed to relieve pain without affecting the rest of the body. For superficial painful conditions like sprains, strains and muscle soreness (and where the skin is unbroken) topical NSAIDs offer this clear advantage over taking tablets, as long as they work.

In a randomised controlled trial, the following results were found

  • Topical NSAIDs gave much better pain relief than placebo
  • Gel formulations of diclofenac, ibuprofen and ketoprofen, and some diclofenac patches, were the most effective. For diclofenac and ketoprofen gels, 7 or 8 people out of 10 with a painful strain, sprain, or muscle pull had much reduced pain after seven days, compared with only 2 or 3 out of 10 with placebo

The results concluded that NSAID gels work best and are a safe alternative to oral drugs for sprains and strains.


Read the full article HERE