Most people would never consider handing over prescription pain medicine to a friend who complained of a toothache or headache, yet the same individual may offer a tube of topical cream to a friend who complained of joint pain. Of course, no harm is intended by this generous offer, but it stems from a misunderstanding of topical prescription pain relievers.
People often assume that creams cannot be abused or overused, but that is not the case. These misconceptions can be easily cleared up by reviewing a sample of frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers.
Q: How do topical pain relievers work?
A: Treatment options for muscle and joint pain vary, but one of the most effective is the line of prescription topical creams. They work by blocking nerves that send pain impulses to the affected area and absorb into the skin at a slow pace, so relief lasts for several hours.
Q: Can I wear clothing over a topical pain reliever?
A: When possible, the area should be left open to breathe. However, when that is not possible, the cream can certainly be covered with a bandage or clothing. Absorption begins with the initial application, so waiting just a few minutes before covering the area will ensure that the medication is not rubbed off or otherwise rendered ineffective.
Q: How often should I apply the topical pain reliever?
A: Just as with any other prescription pain reliever, topical medications should be used only per the doctor’s recommendations. As a general rule, prescription topical pain relievers will last anywhere from four to eight hours.
Q: How well do the prescription pain creams work?
A: The latest studies show that over 80% of patients using prescription pain reliever creams benefit tremendously from them for a variety of conditions. This includes arthritis, back or neck pain, neuropathy, sports injuries, ligament or tendon injuries, post-surgical incision areas and more.
Q: Why should I use topical pain creams, I already take oral medication?
A: Topical prescription pain creams have absolutely minimal bloodstream absorption. So they relieve pain directly over the affected area, while not leading to addiction or any systemic effects. They may decrease the amount of oral medications necessary for pain relief, so they are a great option for doctors and patients looking for pain relief answers!
Q: I just found an old prescription tube of pain relieving cream. Is this still good?
A: Maybe. However, this does not mean you should use it. Most manufacturers print an expiration date and lot number at the bottom of the tube. If you are not under medical care, or are planning to use the medication for a different symptom, consult a physician rather than self-medicating.
Q: My purse was in the car overnight and my topical pain relief cream is frozen, what should I do?
A: Ideally, prescription medications should be kept in an even and temperate climate, but sometimes accidents happen. Allow the medication to thaw naturally and continue to use as directed. Generally speaking, it is better to freeze than overheat a topical cream. Overheating causes a breakdown in the active ingredients and makes the cream appear greasy as a result of the separation of medications.
Q: My mother doesn’t need her prescription arthritis cream anymore, can I use it for my wrist? I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome.
A: This is really two questions wrapped into one, so let’s look at each one situation separately. First, you stated that you ‘think’ you have carpal tunnel syndrome. Before moving forward with treatment, you should seek medical attention to confirm the diagnosis and receive a treatment plan.
Second, no – you should never use anyone else’s prescription medication under any circumstances. Doing so could cause illness or an allergic reaction.