You might have seen anti-inflammatory gels on TV commercials and at your chemist’s. So, if you want to know how they work, dive in! Meanwhile, this is a very general question, often asked in clinics. As such, the best anti-inflammatory gel functions by the same procedure as orally taken NSAIDs. They lessen inflammation and pain by blocking the creation of enzymes that generate inflammatory chemicals, therefore swelling and pain, while the difference being orally consumed NSAIDs have a more extensive effect as they enter the bloodstream and go throughout the whole body. On the other hand, anti-inflammatory ointments have an extra localised effect as they are assimilated into tissues (muscle, joint fluid, fascia) instantly underneath the skin when you apply them. It leads to decreased inflammation and pain and a reduced amount of NSAIDs entering the bloodstream, thus reducing apparent side effects, most normally affecting the stomach.
The advantage of this is that there is a lower amount of NSAIDs in the body generating a more immediate effect. In addition, research has indicated that topical anti-inflammatory ointments lessen gastrointestinal symptoms or side effects that may be seen with NSAIDs. Nonetheless, gels themselves may result in skin irritation, allergic reaction, or increased light sensitivity of the skin. Hence, it is vital to consider any existing medical situations or allergies before using it; therefore, it is significant to take professional medical advice before use.
Also, research has indicated that anti-inflammatory ointments are not only helpful in the treatment of inflammation and pain but may also reduce other conditions such as:
- ITB syndrome
- Muscle strains
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Joint sprains
They are of maximum benefit when the source of pain is external and not covered by thick tissues like muscle. And before using these gels, it is also essential to consider if there is any inflammation and is it the inflammation that is resulting in pain. If there is no inflammation, NSAIDs will be inefficient in dealing with your pain.
Some indicators a joint or region may be inflamed are:
- Change in temperature
- Prolonged stiffness or morning pain
If any of the above symptoms and signs are present, this may indicate inflammation is a source of the pain, and you may benefit from using a topical anti-inflammatory ointment.
- Concentration: The concentration of the best anti-inflammatory gel has a strong bearing on how much is assimilated by the tissues.
- Formula: The formula is essential for skin penetration. As such, an anti-inflammatory gel is more beneficial than a cream.
- Blood Flow: If blood flow to the region is boosted due to exercise, a hot shower, a heat pack, massage, etc., there is a better likelihood of the medication being assimilated.
- Wraps: Sports Doctors often suggest wrapping the harmed area in a glad wrap after applying the anti-inflammatory ointment, increasing the time the gel has to permeate the skin before being evaporated.
- Massage: Do not skip about the beneficial effects of massage, including pain relief and improved blood flow. It is believed that the beneficial effects of anti-inflammatory ointments can be reaped in full effect along with a message.
In conclusion, anti-inflammatory gels are most beneficial when pain is close to the skin or local and may be a safer option than orally ingested NSAIDs.