Topical ointments used to treat the symptoms of osteoarthritis the major cause of disability in older people do not work for more than a few weeks say researchers according to a recent study.According to researchers, the current guidelines in Europe and the United States recommend the use of topical treatments containing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve osteoarthritis pain.
Researchers explain many people with osteoarthritis use topical treatments because they cannot tolerate oral NSAIDs. These drugs often cause stomach upset, and many people who start taking them stop.The current study analyzed results from 13 previous studies comparing topical NSAID treatments to sham treatments or treatment with NSAIDs taken by mouth. Results showed the topical treatments were better at relieving pain than the sham treatments, but only for about two weeks.
The most effective treatment, even in the first week, was taking an NSAID by mouth. As expected, the studies showed oral NSAIDs were more likely to cause gastrointestinal problems and more people quit taking them. However, the topical treatments had problems as well, causing more itching, burning and rashes.
Thus researchers conclude saying that more studies have to be done in this regard to support the long term use of topical NSAIDs in osteoarthritis.