Topical pain medication is another route to give people pain relief when pills may not be satisfactory or not provide enough relief. My previous article talked about non-prescription topical pain medications: www.empowher.com/skin-hair-amp-nails/content/do-topical-pain-medications-work, but there are also some medications that are available by prescription or that can be compounded by a special pharmacy.
The three types of prescription topical pain medication discussed below are: Flector patches, lidocaine patches and special formulations that a compounding pharmacist can mix into a cream or gel. Narcotic prescription topical pain medications are not covered in this article as they provide a whole other level of more serious pain control.
Flector patches are the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved prescription non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) patch allowed in the U.S. The active drug is called Voltaren or Diclofenac, which also comes in a gel form. Flector patches are used for muscle type strains. The patches are worn for up to 12 hours directly on the area of pain then replaced with another patch.
Flector patches do have numerous precautions particularly for their use in people with cardiovascular or kidney disease as well as those prone to gastrointestinal bleeding. Avoid Flector patches if you have had or will have CABG (coronary artery bypass graft) surgery. Do not take other oral NSAIDs while using Flector patches and check with your doctor or pharmacist about interaction with any other medications you are taking.
Lidoderm patches contain the anesthetic lidocaine and works by blocking the nerves from sending painful impulses to the brain. Lidoderm has been approved to treat post herpetic neuralgias from having shingles but can be used for other painful conditions off label. Unlike Flector patches they are only to be worn for a total of 12 hours a day then removed for 12 hours.
Lidoderm patches do have a fairly full list of possible side effects and interactions that should be reviewed with your doctor. Those with liver disease and a history of arrhythmias need to take the most precautions along with the usual alerts of potential allergic reactions, not to apply the patches to broken skin or use during pregnancy.
It is important to note that without the help of insurance coverage, Lidoderm and Flector patches are expensive at over $200 for a box of 30 patches.
Compounded Topical Medications:
Compounding pharmacies can make up a variety of pain relieving creams or gels depending on what is causing the pain. They typically blend a few different medications in varying percents into a gel base that is better absorbed by the skin. Examples of the types of medication that can be compounded are: NSAIDs, anesthetics, neuropathic pain agents or muscle relaxants. The creams are rubbed into the skin two to four times a day (or as directed by your doctor) to obtain the best relief.
One way to find a compounding pharmacy is through http://www.pccarx.com/ . A doctor will need to give the pharmacist a prescription for these type of topical medications but the pharmacist can help the doctor decide what might work best for you.
Topical pain medications, both prescription and non-prescription, add another option in the challenge of controlling pain. If taking pills has not provided enough relief, then topical pain medication may be something that can be added. Talk with your doctor or a compounding pharmacist to see if any of these medications are right for you.
Topical Pain Medications: Which Ones Do the Job?
Topical preparations for pain relief: efficacy and patient adherence
Rocky Mountain Pharmacy
Edited by Alison Stanton
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s health care and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles