By Kennedy Shelley
The top two selling arthritis pain creams generated over a quarter of a billion in sales last year. Is this money down the drain?
Is the stuff doing any good, or is it making you smell like the people who reeked of BenGay you used to stay away from when you were younger?
And what about the new CBD oils that they say will help?
Harvard Health says that rub on pain relief does have some real advantages over pills.
Most pills tend to irritate the stomach and may interfere with other important functions, even over the counter medicines do have some side effects.
Topical anti-inflammation can go through the skin and actually get into the joint.
That means that you don’t have to get ibuprofen and other drugs going through your entire body just to get your knee or hands to quit aching.
Topical analgesics seem to work best on joints such as elbows, knees as well as feet and hands.
So instead of taking aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen putting it where it hurts makes a great deal of sense and the science seems to back up the use of topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
And the science backs this up.
The best evidence comes from the Cochran Review which looked at all the known studies and they showed that topical prescription NSAIDs did as well as taking the pill form.
The only problem with using topicals seems to be occasional skin irritation and people not washing it off their hands after they put it where it hurts.
Also, there are people who want to double-dip, that is they take the pills and apply a topical analgesic and that can produce problems associated with overdosing, which means this type of action will be especially tough on the liver.
You might have a tough time getting a rub-on cream of your specific NSAIDs but look and see if there is a compounding pharmacy near you that can do it for you.
DOES CBD WORK?
In 2017, in the journal Pain, scientists published the first study of people who were using CBD on early arthritis pain and they found that indeed, CBD was an effective anti-inflammatory.
Unlike NSAIDs, it helped not only with the pain and inflammation but also protected the nerve cells.
CBD’s are made from hemp and while some are concerned that it will make them loopy, this medication does not contain any mind-altering chemicals, unlike its plant cousin marijuana.
It has been safe for general use and the National Institute on Drug Abuse can’t find any problems with it and can’t see how it could be addictive.
So now there are some good alternatives to taking non-stop pills for arthritis pain.
Put the medicine where the pain is may be a great way to avoid some of the complications of taking more medicine that goes everywhere and just stays focused where it is needed.