PATCH ME UP
A patch for computer software is applied with the goal of improving usability or performance. It typically takes minutes to install and produces all sorts of positive outcomes. What if you could apply a patch to yourself and improve the usability and performance of your body? According to a May 2019 article in U.S. Pharmacist, if you have chronic pain, you may be able to do just that.
THE PATCHWORK OF CHRONIC PAIN
The latest report from the CDC states 20.4% of adults in the United States experience chronic pain. One of the biggest problems of treating chronic pain is it’s a patchwork of issues. Inflammation. Nerve damage. Joint damage. Bone pain. The list goes on and on. Chances are one person’s chronic pain comes from more than one source creating a patchwork of problems to be addressed.
Among the therapeutic options for the management of pain are topical analgesic patches. These patches are available by prescription and over-the-counter. Unfortunately clinical studies involving patches are few and far between. But this doesn’t mean they don’t work and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consult with your physician about trying them. In general patches offer numerous advantages over more traditional medications:
- Deliver the medication directly to the inflamed site, resulting in high local concentrations
- Offer controlled absorption
- Provide enhanced bioavailability
- Ability to terminate drug delivery by removal of the patch
- Ease of administration
- Can be used by patients who are unable to swallow oral dosage forms
- Require less frequent administration than orally administered medications
- Avoid GI medication-related side effects
- Generally associated with minimal systemic adverse effects and drug interaction
Among the active ingredients currently available in over-the-counter patches are lidocaine, capsaicin, methyl salicylate, and menthol. Each one offers something different in a different way and is detailed below.
This is a local anesthetic that acts on dysfunctional nerve channels in patients with peripheral nerve damage that has created chronic neuropathic pain.
These are resins derived from hot chili peppers. Commercially available as capsaicin or capsicum oleoresin. It is used topically to treat both nociceptive and neuropathic pain.
Methyl Salicylate (MS)
Commonly referred to as oil of wintergreen, sweet birch oil, gaultheria oil, teaberry oil, and mountain tea, medicinally, MS has been used an pain reliever, an anti-inflammatory agent, a counterirritant, a fragrance in health and beauty aids, and a penetration enhancer for other topical medications, and to increase blood flow and skin temperature.
A natural product from the peppermint plant, menthol has a cooling effect on the skin. However, this is temperature dependent with skin temperatures above 37°C producing feelings of warmth. In general, menthol increase blood flow to an area and has been found to help pain in patients with peripheral and central neuropathic pain.
I started using the 5% lidocaine patch two years ago for trigeminal neuralgia nerve pain and it’s worked for me. In fact, I can’t say enough good things about it! I carry one with me at all times, ready to use at the first flicker of nerve pain.
In the end, using a patch is going to be a trial-and-error situation based on your personal needs. Should you decide to try a patch be sure to discuss it with your physician and review it with your local pharmacist. And remember, each one works differently. I know people who had no relief with lidocaine but who had great success with capsaicin, so, don’t give up after one, be sure to try several and see if you can find something to meet your needs.
ABOUT THE ARTICLE: the complete report reviewing patches is available here https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/911728_1
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: This article has been written by azurelle, whose home community is Living With Chronic Facial Pain. She lives in the United States with a flock of three rescued parrots. When she’s not working on Ben’s Friends, she can be found writing short fiction or avoiding regular house work by doing miniature house work in her dollhouse.