Topical anti-inflammatories are effective, safe
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Fresh science! Multiple studies have concluded that topical anti-inflammatories are both effective and safe for osteoarthritis. That’s topical, not oral — a completely different beast. This new paper (Zeng et al) reviews the results of 43 studies and concludes that “diclofenac patches may be the most effective topical NSAID for pain relief. No serious gastrointestinal and renal adverse events were observed in trials or the general population.”
That’s the science. Now for a useless but encouraging anecdote …
A few weeks ago, I had my first personal experience with dramatic relief from Voltaren Gel (topical diclofenac). It’s not the first time I have found it useful, but it was the first time it was amazing. I’d been having some unexplained knee pain intermittently for several weeks when it kicked up a notch or two and became constant and even started waking me up at night. When I finally remembered to try Voltaren Gel — I’m not sure what took me so long — things were bad enough that it was going to be obvious if it worked. And it was! After many days of constant discomfort ranging from 3-6 on a 10-scale, it just ended: half an hour after applying the stuff, I simply didn’t have that problem anymore. Hallelujah! It’s been weeks since then with no relapse. Although the pain was not terrible, this is actually one of the clearest examples of pain relief from any treatment that I’ve ever enjoyed.
For more information about this stuff, see Voltaren Gel: Does It Work?.