Topical Pain Killers for Rheumatoid Arthritis?

There are many topical pain killers available for the relief of mild pain of rheumatoid arthritis. These topical pain killers are typically available in one of three ways, including salves, gels, or creams. This article will cover the main types and active ingredients of topical pain killers, including known side effects.


Corticosteroids are available in the form of a cream for the relief of certain symptoms, including swelling, itching, redness, and overall discomfort. Many of these corticosteroids require a prescription and are known to be associated with many side effects, particularly increased sensitivity of the skin.


There are many counter-irritants available to decrease overall signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Counter irritants function to provide relief of pain symptoms due to their ability to provide cooling or heating effects. The body is effectively tricked or distracted by these agents. The most commonly utilized counter-irritant is the ingredient capsaicin.


Capsaicin is a type of counter-irritant that is the known chemical ingredient of chili peppers responsible for making them hot to taste. Capsaicin is effectively isolated and purified from the seeds of chili peppers and made into a topical cream that is known to cause a sensation of burning. While there is no clear research to support the reasons capsaicin is effective, it is theorized that the burning sensation deprives the nerve cells of what is known as substance P. Substance P has a role in the transmission of pain signaling to the brain.

Numbing Agents

There are a wide variety of numbing agents available in the form of creams for the purpose of numbing painful joints. Many of these numbing agents were not initially designed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The most commonly prescribed numbing medication is known as EMLA (eutectic mixture of local anesthetics). However, there are also many over the counter products available that provide the sensation of numbing. It should be noted that there are certain side effects associated with the use of these agents.


Salicylates are the main ingredient of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs put in creams for the relief of pain and local inflammation. However, these drugs are also associated with certain side effects. There are also studies that have shown that the use of salicylates is only effective for a period of a few weeks.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Suggestions

As with all treatment methods, the use of topical pain killers should be discussed with your physician. You should also take the initiative to educate yourself about the condition of rheumatoid arthritis, its signs and symptoms, and all treatment methods, both prescription and over-the-counter medications, in addition to natural methods including dietary and lifestyle habits. Remember not to be afraid to ask questions. The first step to the control and maintenance of signs and symptoms is only accomplished through an understanding of the disease. It is possible, typically through a specific combination of treatment methods, to control the signs and symptoms while leading a quality life.


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