Topical Analgesics in Real Life: results

The results of a new study on topical analgesics ‘Optimizing Patient Experience and Response to Topical Analgesics (OPERA) Study’ was published in the Journal of Pain Research in October 2017. The results indicate that topical treatments may provide an effective and safer treatment alternative to opioids and prescription NSAIDs for the management of chronic pain.

Despite of many treatment options in chronic pain, only around 30-40% of patients treated for chronic pain respond favorably to therapy.
Analgesics such as opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have their drawbacks in that these are associated with serious adverse effects including abuse, addiction, and death. Opioid misuse and overdose have meanwhile reached epidemic proportions.

The results of this study are therefore very much welcomed, and demonstrate that topical analgesics were associated with reductions of up to 60% in the use of concurrent pain medications, including oral opioid analgesics.
Topical agents have come into a new focus since this century, and many studies supported their efficacy without the risk of side effects, drug-drug interactions, abuse, misuse, and addiction.

The results of the study again made clear that topical analgesics are effective and safe for the relief of moderately severe chronic pain. The population explored in this study suffered from chronic pain, related to arthritis, neuropathy, and musculoskeletal disorders. Treated patients also reported to prefer topical treatments both for their convenience and ease of use. Only 0.5% of patients reported side effects while using the topical treatments.

Jeffrey A Gudin, et al. Changes in pain and concurrent pain medication use following compounded topical analgesic treatment for chronic pain: 3- and 6-month follow-up results from the prospective, observational Optimizing Patient Experience and Response to Topical Analgesics studyJ Pain Res. 2017; 10: 2341–2354.