Topical Prescription Pain Medications for Osteoarthritis


Osteoarthritis (OA), a chronic condition, is a type of arthritis which is incurable and is characterized by breakage of cartilage. If you think this is some rare illness you don’t have to worry about, think again! Because this debilitating illness affects millions of people around the globe and can be quite hard to cope with. More than 27 million people are crippled with osteoarthritis in US alone, and the number is growing all over the world. Osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in America, and symptomatic knee OA occurs in 10 percent men and 13 percent in women aged 60 years or older.

How Does It Develop?

OA develops slowly, generally starting with symptoms like stiffness of the joints or a feeling or soreness. However, over time as the condition Topical pain relief prescriptionsworsens, the cartilage cushioning the joints breaks, causing the bones to rub close against each other. This causes decreased mobility, worsening stiffness, and severe pain.

What Are The Causes for Osteoarthritis?

While the causes for osteoarthritis are not completely known, obesity, old age, injuries to joint, and weakness of muscles can render a person susceptible to this illness. A muscle or joint injury from the past can also cause the slow development of osteoarthritis. Since the condition has no permanent cure, treatment options generally revolve around approaches geared towards reducing pain, or treating the symptoms which may aggravate the condition, such as instance obesity.

OA Treatment

Osteoarthritis is generally treated through a combination of physical or occupational therapy, and pain relieving medicines. Because this is a life-long condition, treatment should be directed towards a long-term approach coupled with instant symptom relief to help the patient live a normal life. While oral pain relievers are used to help reduce pain, topical pain relieving medicines have proved to be especially beneficial in treating this condition. There are many advantages of topical medications, including less side-effects and quicker pain relief.

Why Use Topical Pain Medications?

Topical pain medications come in different forms. Broadly speaking, topical agents can be categorized into:

  • Topical Analgesics – Analgesics are pain-relieving formulas in the form of creams, lotions, roll-ons, ointments, sprays, or patches. These help in reducing the inflammation at the site of application and thus help in relieving pain. They also act on the central nervous system to provide pain relief.
  • Topical Anesthetics – Anesthetics on the other hand do not help with inflammation or the cause of the pain. Instead, they just numb the immediate site of application. This causes instant pain relief for the patient, as the sensation is no longer present.

Now you may be wondering what’s so great about topical pain medications, when one can achieve the same results using oral medication. The greatest benefit of topical agents is lessened side-effects. Generally, long-term use of pain relieving medicines can affect the stomach, hormones, sleep cycle, nervous system, and more. Topical agents are safer in this regard. This is because they are directly applied to the ailing site and do not have to pass through the GI tract. This causes minimum systemic absorption and thus, lessened side-effects.

Prescription pain cream for knee painTypes of Topical Agents

Topical agents come in different forms and types to make usage very easy. Some topical agents like NSAIDs are available in the form of roll-ons and gels, while others like lidocaine come in the form of patches and ointments, which can be applied to skin to lessen the sensation of the pain. When looking for an effective topical agent, make sure it has one of these ingredients:

  • Counterirritants like menthol
  • Salicyclates
  • Capsaicin

Topical medications containing these ingredients are easily available in the drugstores, and are sold as over-the-counter drugs. However, compounded forms are the best, and they are available by a doctor’s prescription. They may also contain NSAIDS and possibly even Ketamine or an opioid depending on the specific need. Topical medications provide a safe and easy way to help cope with osteoarthritis and are a worthy alternative to their oral counterparts.

Resources

Zhang Y. and Jordan, J.M. (2010). Epidemiology of osteoarthritis. Clin Geriatr Med, 26(3), 355 – 369. Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20699159

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