Special Delivery: Pain Relief Without Pills

New patches, gels, and a prescription lotion are safer and more convenient for relieving joint pain, and can be just as effective.

Although nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the pills of choice to treat arthritis pain, gastrointestinal side effects and the increased risk of heart problems have limited their use for many people. Now some new options-in the form of prescription patches, gels, and lotions-make it easier and safer to get pain relief, says Daniel Mazanec, MD, Associate Director, Cleveland Clinic Center for Spine Health, and head of the Section on Spine Medicine. These different drug-delivery systems are gaining popularity primarily because systemic (entire body) absorption from these products is often "significantly less" than from the oral form of the drug. In theory, at least, the risk of systemic adverse effects is also lower.
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