Efficacy and safety of topical NSAIDs in the management of osteoarthritis: Evidence from real-life setting trials and surveys
One article on PainSci cites Rannou 2016: Voltaren Gel: Does It Work?
original abstract †Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.
Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are recommended in international and national guidelines as an early treatment option for the symptomatic management of knee and hand osteoarthritis (OA), and may be used ahead of oral NSAIDs due to their superior safety profile. The European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO) treatment algorithm recommends topical NSAIDs for knee OA in addition to the pharmacological background of symptomatic slow-acting drugs for osteoarthritis (SYSADOAs) and rescue analgesia with paracetamol and non-pharmacological treatment, if the patient is still symptomatic. Topical NSAIDs have a moderate effect on pain relief, with efficacy similar to that of oral NSAIDs, with the advantage of a better risk:benefit ratio. In real-life studies, topical and oral NSAIDs demonstrate an equivalent effect on knee pain over 1 year of treatment, with fewer adverse events due to lower systemic absorption of topical NSAIDs compared with oral NSAIDs. As a result, topical NSAIDs may be the preferred treatment option, especially in OA patients aged ≥75 years, and those with co-morbidities or at an increased risk of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, or renal side effects. Furthermore, using topical NSAIDs in inflammatory rheumatic diseases leads to a 40% reduction in the need for concomitant oral NSAIDs. When selecting a topical NSAID, absorption and bioavailability are important because of heterogeneity among topical drug formulations. Molecules like etofenamate have a bioavailability of>20% and evidence for accumulation in synovial tissues, with efficacy demonstrated as improvement in pain and function in real-life studies of OA patients. Diclofenac also shows good efficacy alongside evidence that diclofenac accumulates in the synovium.
- “Topical diclofenac therapy for osteoarthritis: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials,” Deng et al, Clin Rheumatol, 2016.
- “Relative efficacy and safety of topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for osteoarthritis: a systematic review and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and observational studies,” Zeng et al, British Journal of Sports Medicine, 2018.
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