Learn your topical treatment options to manage painful arthritis.
When you’re experiencing pain in your joints and muscles, topical pain relievers are a good alternative for pain management. These medications are delivered through a variety of dosage forms, including patches, gels, lotions, creams, sprays, and ointments. Topical agents have been used for decades to help prevent and treat a wide variety of health conditions, including pain from arthritis, fibromyalgia and other chronic conditions.
Topical pain medications are absorbed through the skin and are best for relieving joint and muscle pain close to the skin’s surface, including the hands, elbows, knees and feet. If you are reluctant to take pills, you may opt for an over-the-counter cream or patch or to have your doctor prescribe a stronger topical medication.
What are your options? And will they work to manage your pain?
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Agents
Diclofenac is a topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication available for topical pain management. Diclofenac is available in both patch and solution/gel formulas. The patch (Flector Patch) was first approved by the FDA in 1998 and can be used for the treatment of sprains and strains, but the solution/gel (Voltaren Gel) was designed for arthritis pain. Diclofenac works by reducing substances that cause inflammation and pain in the body. It is only available as a prescription and carries the same risk as other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).