Topical Creams for Foot Pain
Foot pain may be relieved by selecting and wearing appropriate footwear or even receiving massage therapy that targets the feet. Sometimes traditional pain relievers (i.e., in pill form) will not work, and if you want another option to treat pain, topical medications may be for you.
Topical pain medications can be found in many forms such as balms, lotions, gels, creams, ointments, and patches. The benefit of topical medications is the ability to specifically target the area(s) of pain and treat it without any serious negative side effects.
The distinct types of topical medications fall into one of the following categories:
• Salicylates contain a chemical similar to aspirin and are designed to be absorbed into the skin to relieve pain. These creams are most commonly used for muscle soreness and aches. Common branded products include Ben Gay, Aspercreme, and Sportscreme.
• Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen fight pain associated with swelling. They are produced in a gel or cream, like salicylates, and are designed to be absorbed into the skin. NSAIDs increase the body's anti-inflammatory response, reducing pain and heat for the injured area. They are available over-the-counter and in prescription form.
• Analgesics are useful in reducing pain in those suffering from mild arthritis. If your pain is focused in your ankle, for example, you might consider the brand name products Capzasin-P, Menthacin, and Zostrix. The cream or ointment works by stimulating and then decreasing the intensity of pain signals in the body.
• Counterirritants create a warm or cool sensation over a painful joint or sore muscle. Brand-name products include Icy Hot, JointFlex, and Flexall.
• Anesthetics are used to relieve "local pain" to a specific area by disabling the nerve endings in the skin. Brand-name anesthetic medications include Lanacane and Xylocaine.
Other topical medications include anti-fungals and corticosteroids. Antifungal topical medications come in various forms such as creams, powders, and sprays, and are used for treatment of athlete's foot. Some common brand medicines are Lotrimin, Lamisil, and Desenex. See a podiatric physician if anti-fungal creams you've tried do not seem to work or if you have any other symptoms related to the infection, such as fever, rash, or sore throat.
Corticosteroids are most common topical treatment for psoriasis. They work by reducing inflammation and slowing the growth and build-up of skin cells. Applying topical creams on the infected areas will help soothe the itch and soften the hardened skin. If you have psoriasis on your feet, it is best to treat it as soon as possible to minimize the risk of spreading infection to your leg and even your toe nails. Consult with a podiatric physician immediately if you suspect you have psoriasis.
Topical pain medications are helpful in relieving the pain associated with foot problems but should never be used to "mask" pain. Consult a podiatric physician for suggestions and proper usage of topical medications.
This patient information newsletter is courtesy of www.apma.org