The Mayo Clinic on Arthritis and NSAIDs

I wrote this post nearly 10 years ago. I am rerunning it on the penultimate day of this year because – of all the posts I have written since starting the blog this one was the most popular. I hope you find it useful.

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.

This is the location of my arthritis. It hurts to use a button, turn a key and grip anything tightly.

“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 have found a botanical that I take orally that gives me some relief from the arthritis pain at the base of my thumbs. It is – Dololed. The only place I have been able to buy it is Ebay. It is made from calendula leaves.

Please feel free to add your thoughts and experiences in dealing with osteoarthritis in the comments section.


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Filed under aging, arthritis, Mayo Clinic, NSAID

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