When you have joint, muscle, or other pain, a compounding pharmacy can create medicated gels and creams that you apply directly on the places where you hurt. Here are four reasons why topical medications are a good option for pain relief.

1. Topical Medicines Reduce Use of Oral Opiates

According to the CDC, from 1994 to 2014, the number of opioid painkillers prescribed to patients increased 10-fold. Some of the overprescribing is due to greed and abuse of the legal prescription system, but some of the increase in oral opioid-painkiller prescriptions is due to a lack of knowledge about how to treat pain effectively using opioid painkillers.

Opioid painkillers are now heavily regulated because of their potential to cause harm or even death to patients. Opiate narcotics are highly addictive for some patients and have other adverse side effects that require vigilant monitoring of patients’ painkiller use.

Relying on oral narcotics to treat pain can lead to difficulties for both the patient and the prescribing physician. There are now strict limits on the number of painkillers an individual can be prescribed, and physicians are under increased scrutiny by officials when it comes to the number and types of opioid painkiller prescriptions they write.

Some patients may not receive enough pain medications to ease their symptoms under the new rules. Many physicians are reluctant to treat their patients’ pain with drugs including hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Percocet due to new limits placed on these specific oral painkillers and the drugs’ potential for patient abuse.

An alternative to oral painkillers are topical or transdermal medications for pain, which are not taken by mouth but instead rubbed or placed on the painful areas of the body. Compounding pharmacies can prepare custom formulations for patients.

2. Topical NSAIDS May Be Safer Than Oral NSAIDS

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, are available by prescription and over the counter without a prescription. NSAIDs can be effective at relieving pain, but they come with some serious side effects.

Physicians and pharmacists call the side effects adverse events (AEs), and the AEs associated with oral NSAID use include the following complications:

  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Increased risk of heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Renal problems or failure

Aspirin can also cause some of the same AEs in patients. So what should a pain-sufferer do? One answer is to use topical analgesics to relieve pain symptoms.

Because compounded topical or transdermal pain relievers are placed directly on the site of an injury, inflammation, or other painful condition, the risk of the drug becoming concentrated in a patient’s system is lower.

Some topical applications of opiates including fentanyl and morphine will work locally and in a patient’s system to reduce pain, but the concentration of drugs in a patient’s system will be lower than if the patient took the opioid painkillers by mouth.

3. Topical Painkillers Treat a Wide Array of Pain Issues

Pain is the most common reason that patients access the health care system. Pain affects people’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Acute and chronic pain have consequences for a patient’s family life, ability to work, mood, and mobility.

Compounded topical painkillers can relieve symptoms of both acute and chronic pain. Some of the conditions that can be treated with topical pain relievers include the following:

  • Sports injuries or strain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Arthritis
  • Post-surgical pain
  • Accident- and injury-related pain
  • Idiopathic proctodynia
  • Vulvodynia

If you’re not sure whether your pain can be relieved by topical medicines, ask your physician or other health care provider whether compounded topical medications are a good choice for you.

4. Compounded Pain Gels and Creams Are Effective

The results of 61 random, double-blind studies involving over 8,000 sports-injury patients were recently evaluated to determine the effectiveness of topical NSAID pain relievers. Five different topical analgesics showed high rates of pain relief compared to placebos. These included diclofenac, ibuprofen, indomethacin, piroxicam, and ketoprofen.

In addition to these topical analgesics, compounding pharmacies can prepare other topical and transdermal analgesics such as:

  • Capsaicin
  • Lidocaine
  • Nitroglycerin

Compounding pharmacists can also combine certain pain-relieving drugs to make effective topical and transdermal medicines. For example, they can add menthol to capsaicin and methyl salicylate. Or they can combine lidocaine and tetracaine in a formulation that relieves symptoms more effectively than one of the drugs on its own.

Another possibility is to custom formulate transdermal compounded gels, creams, and patches with drugs that relieve other symptoms besides acute or chronic pain. For example, anti-convulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, and local anesthetics can be combined with NSAIDs in a transdermal formulation to provide tailored relief for a range of symptoms.

One side effect that can occur with a topical or transdermal gel or cream is a rash or other application-site irritation. However, studies have shown that such rashes and other local irritations tend to be temporary, mild, and easy for patients to tolerate.

If you have pain issues from sports-related or other problems, talk with your physician about options for compounded topical and transdermal pain creams and gels, then contact Potter’s House Apothecary to fill your prescription. We compound safe, effective topical and transdermal pain medications for patients in Peoria, Arizona.