Arthritis can occur in more than 100 different forms, according to a Special Report of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Here is the estimated prevalence in the U.S. of certain forms of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis – 27 million adults.
Rheumatoid arthritis – 1.5 million adults.
Gout – 8.3 million adults
NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) medicines are used to treat pain and redness, swelling and inflammation from medical conditions like arthritis. The Mayo Health Letter said, “A topical anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) called diclofenac sodium (Voltaren Gel) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for osteoarthritis. Others are likely to follow.
“Topical NSAIDS contain an agent that allows an NSAID drug … to penetrate the skin. This spares you from up to 95 percent of the drug exposure that would occur if the drug had been taken orally. But side effects are still possible.
“Mayo Clinic experts say the verdict isn’t fully in on whether topical NSAIDs are as effective as oral NSAIDs – or any more effective than are common, non-prescription arthritis creams of gels. It’s also not clear whether they pose the same risk of kidney or heart problems as do oral NSAIDs.”
I developed a bubble on my elbow back in February and my doctor prescribed the NSAID Naproxen for it. I took the drug for a week and the condition cleared up. But wait. While I was taking the drug I became aware that the painful arthritis I suffer from in each hand was hurting less. I told my doctor about this and she said that Naproxen was often prescribed to reduce pain in arthritis, but it is a strong drug with possible bad side effects like liver damage and internal bleeding. She prescribed Voltaren Gel instead because it is used externally.
So I am presently a live clinical study of how well Voltaren Gel works. I can say from three days of usage that it certainly reduces pain. I will let you know of further developments including side effects.
Update: One year later. I have stopped using Voltaren. I didn’t feel it gave me much relief. It was messy to apply and use and I feared drug reactions. I currently use mustard seed oil. I got more relief from it with no drug side effects. I also tried out and wrote a post about gin-soaked raisins for arthritis.