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Arthritis Pain Sprays: Hype or Help?

written by: efrontiers • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 8/28/2010

Do sprays for arthritis pain really work? Are they only hype or do they help relieve the pain of arthritis? This piece of information investigates the efficacy of an arthritis pain spray as an alternative to conventional treatments.

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    With so many choices to manage the pain from arthritis, can sprays for arthritis pain be trusted as an effective help? Alternatively, are they just another set of hyped up products? Let's examine some facts about these products.

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    Overview of Arthritis

    Arthritis is defined as the broad category of diseases involving joint inflammation. With over 100 forms of arthritis, the most common include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and the infection-caused septic arthritis. The main symptoms include inflammation of the joints and tendons, pain, swelling, and stiffness.

    The burden of arthritis is so enormous that it affects over 46 million people in United States alone. In 2003, the total expenditure for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions, including prescriptions and other medical care expenses, totaled to $321.8 billion. This staggering amount expended for treatment is a profitable industry in itself. Hence, this led to the proliferation of various medications and herbal remedies, regardless whether effective or not, to curb the pain and discomfort.

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    Remedies for Arthritis and its Side Effects

    When it comes to remedies for arthritis, there are many myths and hype that obscure the truth of ther real efficacy. Presently, the only types of arthritis that can be cured are those cases caused by infections; in other words, the septic arthritis. In reality, there is no cure for the majority of cases of arthritis and drug treatment is the main form of management of pain.

    To manage pain, the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in oral forms are traditionally employed. However, these treatments are normally associated with side effects like nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, upset stomach, drowsiness, headache, and loss of appetite.

    Because of these associated side effects, there is an increase in available alternatives to the usual anti-inflammatory oral treatments for arthritis. These alternatives come in the form of topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) in sprays or gels.

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    Pain Sprays for Arthritis

    With the demand for efficacious alternatives, pain sprays were recognized as a potential help. However, do they truly help?

    An arthritis pain spray is applied directly to the skin in the region where the pain is experienced. One of the advantages of choosing a topical application of NSAIDS is the blood concentrations are only around five percent of the blood concentrations that occur when one opts for oral NSAIDs. This significantly minimizes potential risks of side effects and other systemic adverse events.

    For pain sprays to manage the symptoms properly, they have to penetrate the skin and enter the tissues in a high enough concentration. This effect was confirmed by an Indian research which investigated the long-term efficacy of topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in knee osteoarthritis. The research revealed that topical NSAIDs are effective for pain relief in knee osteoarthritis. The Indian research had, however, found that this may not hold true for all pain sprays or other forms of topical preparations.

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    The Proven Effective and Safe Pain Sprays for Arthritis

    Fortunately, many studies had tested the efficacy of these topical preparations and only topical diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and piroxicam provide good effects with substantial evidence of high efficacy in clinical trials. Thus, arthritis sufferers need to be careful when choosing pain sprays to manage their symptoms and pain.

    The best thing about these topical NSAID pain sprays is that systemic adverse events such as upset stomach and nausea are very uncommon as revealed in clinical trials. In contrast, these adverse effects are very common with oral preparations of anti-inflammatory remedies. Thus, the side effects are mostly prevented with the use of pain sprays for arthritis.

    A study from Brunei had findings verifying the efficacy of topical diclofenac sodium, which is one of the common pain sprays for arthritis. According to researchers, the findings reveal that it is one of the safest methods of pain control for patients with osteoarthritis.

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    Conclusion

    From all the scientific findings above, it is now safe to conclude that pain sprays for arthritis, despite all the hype around these products, are indeed worth considering as a help for management of pain and other symptoms. Finally, concerning the proven effective topical preparations above, the choice of pain spray must also be guided by your doctor.

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