Topical Therapy for Chronic Pain

50 million Americans have chronic pain. Advances in research and development have greatly enhanced the ability to treat both acute and chronic pain. However, while the number of treatment options - including antidepressants, anticonvulsants, opioids, nonopioid analgesics, and local anesthetics - for such conditions as neuropathy, postherpetic neuralgia, low back pain, soft tissue injuries and arthritic conditions has expanded, many patients, particularly those with persistent pain, continue to experience inadequate pain relief and/or intolerable adverse effects. Topical agents, used alone or in combination with other therapies, are proving to be both safe and effective in reducing pain and improving function. Jana Sawynok, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, stated that currently, topical administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and other medications is being used to treat a variety of clinical conditions. Scientific evidence indicates that topical analgesics create an efficacious option for adjuvant drug therapy, with minimal risk of significant systemic absorption and drug-drug interactions.