Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are frequently prescribed to treat arthritis pain and inflammation. When taken orally however, NSAIDs can lead to negative side effects including stomach upset, ulcers, and kidney and liver problems. Applying a medication on the skin directly to the area of pain limits the amount of the drug in the bloodstream compared to an oral medication. With customized topical NSAIDs made by a compounding pharmacy the systemic effects of an oral medication can be avoided while providing additional benefits.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is not one particular disease but a general term for describing pain and inflammation of the joints. There are many different types of arthritis with different causes.
- Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types and is the result of cartilage in joints wearing away leading to bone rubbing against bone. This can lead to further joint damage as well as chronic pain and inflammation.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis is a type of autoimmune arthritis. With this type of arthritis the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. This affects joint linings and can lead to swelling and pain.
Arthritis is a common condition with around 50 million adults suffering from symptoms. While lifestyle changes including exercise and weight management can help, often medications like NSAIDs are prescribed to manage pain.
What are NSAIDs?
NSAIDs work by reducing inflammation. There are certain chemicals in the body that promote inflammation and are necessary for normal healing. NSAIDs reduce the levels of these chemicals, which leads to decreased pain and inflammation.
Topical NSAID Creams and Gels
Topical NSAIDs have been shown to be just as effective as oral NSAIDs for treating arthritis pain. There are also additional benefits to choosing a topical over an oral medication.
- If the areas of pain are more localized a topical is an excellent choice for treating only the joints that are in pain.
- NSAIDs applied topically can be especially effective for treating smaller joints that are closer to the surface of the skin like in the hands and knees.
- NSAIDs are known to cause gastrointestinal problems when taken orally. Blood levels of a drug remain lower when the medication is applied topically, which reduces negative effects on the stomach.
Compound Formulations of Topical NSAIDs
Examples of topical NSAIDs that can be custom-made at a compounding pharmacy include diclofenac, ketoprofen, and indomethacin. These are often combined with other ingredients that work well topically to reduce pain including:
- Lidocaine is a commonly used anesthetic that blocks transmission of nerve signals.
- Capsaicin is derived from the part of chili peppers that produce heat and make them fiery. When applied topically, capsaicin can block pain signals to the brain by overloading pain receptors.
- Menthol and Camphor are counterirritants that warm or cool the skin, which distracts the brain from pain. They work by masking pain temporarily with another sensation.
Other Treatments for Arthritis
NSAIDS and prescription medications are not the only treatments available for arthritis. Various studies have shown that turmeric can effectively improve arthritis symptoms and has numerous health benefits. Turmeric, a flowering plant in the ginger family, has rhizomes that are made into a powder for cooking and supplementation. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent found in turmeric that is responsible for its anti-inflammatory health benefits. Curcumin may help prevent and reduce joint inflammation, swelling, and pain for arthritis sufferers.
Contact Woodland Hills Pharmacy
A rheumatologist can help determine the best treatment regimen for a patient’s particular type of arthritis. There are many customized treatments available from a compounding pharmacy that can provide relief from pain and inflammation. Contact Woodland Hills Compounding Pharmacy today to learn more about our available prescription topical NSAIDs for managing arthritis pain.