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Topical NSAIDs are a Safer Bet in Treating Local Pain

The results of a new Cochrane Systematic Review show that topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat short-term pain more effectively and have fewer side effects.

The results of a new Cochrane Systematic Review show that topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat short-term pain more effectively and have fewer side effects.

Topical NSAIDs, including gels, creams, and sprays containing painkillers such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, ketoprofen, and piroxicam, are routinely prescribed for local pain relief of mild to moderate pain in many countries. The treatments do not reach high concentrations in the blood, unlike oral drugs.

Cochrane researchers evaluated data from 31 studies involving 3,455 participants. The participants were given either topical NSAIDs or placebos. Most of the participants were given the treatments to treat short-term pain caused by sprains, strains, or sports injuries. The studies lasted typically between one week. According to the overall results, NSAIDs successfully reduced pain by 50% or more in more than six out of 10 cases. Placebos reduced pain four out of 10 times. Among the drugs producing the best results were diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and piroxicam.

The review also demonstrated that there were few side effects associated with the topical drugs.