mage courtesy of maya picture at
Image courtesy of maya picture at

Topical pain gels have been increasing both in availability and popularity over the past several years. Many medications prescribed orally for pain, muscle spasms and nerve issues can often cause significant adverse effects, including drowsiness, dizziness, stomach upset, nausea, thinning of the blood and liver damage. For some patients, these adverse effects can limit how they use their medications.

For example, drugs with sedative adverse effects may need to be avoided during the day if patients have to work, drive, or perform other tasks requiring focus and coordination. Drugs with digestive adverse effects can affect diet, regularity, and nutrient absorption. Similar adverse effects caused by other medications patients are taking can produce additive or synergistic effects, potentially creating further patient limitations or complications. Topical application of pain gels can serve two purposes: to provide quick relief of symptoms by delivering medication directly to the painful area and to minimize adverse effects by having so little of the medication actually absorbed into the bloodstream as compared to oral administration.

One challenge with pain gels, however, can be the cost to patients. With insurance companies regularly changing what they do and do not cover, both commercially available and compounded pain gels can become prohibitively expensive if a patient’s insurance is unwilling to cover them. Our compounding pharmacies are uniquely positioned to provide alternatives to these formulations, which can provide equal or superior symptom relief while minimizing the cost to the patient, regardless of whether their insurance plan will cover the prescription.

Our pain gels can include a variety of effective (and often inexpensive) active ingredients to manage your particular symptoms. Ketoprofen, piroxicam, and flurbiprofen are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) similar to oral NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen. NSAIDs provide relief of pain and swelling, and form the backbone of many of our customized preparations. Ketamine is another pain reliever capable of providing increased pain relief, including nerve pain. Baclofen and cyclobenzaprine are skeletal muscle relaxants that can provide relief for muscle tension or spasm. Lidocaine is an anesthetic that provides temporary numbing effects for chronically aching muscles. Amitriptyline and gabapentin are drugs specifically used to treat nerve pain, which does not always respond well to traditional pain relievers.

Depending on your symptoms, your doctor can choose one of our standard pain gel formulations, or create one specifically for you. Most of our active drugs can be adjusted up or down in strength to optimize symptom relief, or they can be substituted with similarly effective but less expensive ingredients to reduce patient cost. Dispensed quantities of prescribed pain gels can also be adjusted to lower total costs, as well.

As always, our compounding pharmacists are available to answer any questions you or your doctor may have regarding our compounded pain gels. We strive to bring you the best product at the best price.

by Homer Alvarez, R.Ph.