Pain management is essential because, even when the underlying disease process is stable, uncontrolled pain prevents patients from working productively, enjoying recreation, or taking pleasure in their usual roles in the family and society. Chronic pain may have a myriad of causes and perpetuating factors, and therefore can be much more difficult to manage than acute pain, requiring a multidisciplinary approach and customized treatment protocols to meet the specific needs of each patient.
Optimal treatment may involve the use of medications that possess pain-relieving properties, including some antidepressants, anticonvulsants, antiarrhythmics, anesthetics, antiviral agents, and NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) antagonists. NMDA-receptor antagonists, such as dextromethorphan and ketamine, can block pain transmission in dorsal horn spinal neurons, reduce nociception, and decrease tolerance to and the need for opioid analgesics. [Anesth Analg 2001 Mar;92(3):739-44] By combining various agents which utilize different mechanisms to alter the sensation of pain, physicians have found that smaller concentrations of each medication can be used.
Topical and transdermal creams and gels can be formulated to provide high local concentrations at the site of application (e.g., NSAIDs for joint pain), for trigger point application (e.g., combinations of medications for neuropathic pain), or in a base that will allow systemic absorption. Side effects associated with oral administration can often be avoided when medications are used topically. Studies suggest that there are no great restrictions on the type of drug that can be incorporated into a properly compounded transdermal gel. When medications are administered transdermally, they are not absorbed through the gastrointestinal system and do not undergo first-pass hepatic metabolism.
We work together with prescriber and patient to solve problems by customizing medications that meet the specific needs of each individual. Please contact our compounding pharmacist to discuss the dosage form, strength, and medication or combination that is most appropriate for your patient.
The following article discusses the use of topical ketamine 0.5% (5 mg/ml) gel, applied as a thin film two to three times daily over the skin where pain was severe. Topical ketamine reduced pain for patients with postherpetic neuralgia with no systemic side effects.
Topical ketamine treatment of postherpetic neuralgia
The following article concludes: A fixed combination of indomethacin 25 mg, prochlorperazine dimaleate 4 mg, and caffeine 75 mg is significantly more effective than sumatriptan in the acute treatment of migraine attacks versus sumatriptan 25 mg, both rectal suppositories.
Headache. 2003 Sep;43(8):835-44
Efficacy of a fixed combination of indomethacin, prochlorperazine, and caffeine versus sumatriptan in acute treatment of multiple migraine attacks: a multicenter, randomized, crossover trial.
Di Monda V, Nicolodi M, Aloisio A, Del Bianco P, Fonzari M, Grazioli I, Uslenghi C, Vecchiet L, Sicuteri F.
Neurology Division I, Spedali Civili di Brescia, Italy.
The following article concludes: Oral therapy with a combination of LAS (equivalent to 900 mg ASA) and metoclopramide 10 mg was superior to placebo with therapeutic gains of 30% and 31% for the first treated attack, and was comparable to 100 mg sumatriptan.
Funct Neurol. 2000;15 Suppl 3:196-201
The effectiveness of combined oral lysine acetylsalicylate and metoclopramide (Migpriv) in the treatment of migraine attacks. Comparison with placebo and oral sumatriptan.
Department of Neurology, Glostrup Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Glostrup, DK-2600 Glostrup, Denmark.
To avoid the risks of COX-2 inhibitors, our pharmacy can compound topically applied NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and ketoprofen. Topical NSAIDs have a safety profile which is superior to oral formulations. Topical NSAID administration offers the advantage of local, enhanced delivery to painful sites with a reduced incidence of systemic adverse effects.
Topical preparations can be customized to contain a combination of medications to meet the specific needs of each patient.
Topical NSAIDs for Acute Pain
“Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have a lower incidence of gastrointestinal adverse effects than the same drugs when they are taken orally. The low incidence of systemic adverse effects for topical NSAIDs probably results from the much lower plasma concentration from similar doses applied topically to those administered orally. Topical application of ibuprofen resulted in measurable tissue concentrations in deep tissue compartments, more than enough to inhibit inflammatory enzymes.”1Topical NSAIDs have not been associated with renal failure.2
The following article concludes: “LAT gel (4% lidocaine, 1:2000 adrenaline, 0.5% tetracaine) worked as well as TAC gel (0.5% tetracaine, 1:2000 adrenaline, 11.8% cocaine) for topical anesthesia in facial and scalp lacerations. Considering the advantages of a noncontrolled substance and less expense, LAT gel appears to be better suited than TAC gel for topical anesthesia in laceration repair in children.”
Pediatrics 1995 Feb;95(2):255-8
Lidocaine adrenaline tetracaine gel versus tetracaine adrenaline cocaine gel for topical anesthesia in linear scalp and facial lacerations in children aged 5 to 17 years.
Ernst AA, Marvez E, Nick TG, Chin E, Wood E, Gonzaba WT
Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University, New Orleans.
The following article reported that a triple-anesthetic gel containing benzocaine, lidocaine, and tetracaine (“BLT”) applied prior to treatment with a 532-nm KTP laser resulted in significantly lower pain scores than with 3 other topical anesthetics at 15, 30, 45, and 60 minutes after application.
Cosmetic Dermatology 2003 Apr;16(4):35-7
Topical Triple-Anesthetic Gel Compared With 3 Topical Anesthetics
Department of Dermatologic Surgery, University of California, San Francisco
Examples of compounded medicines
All formulations are customized per prescription to meet the unique needs of each patient. Please call us to discuss the dosage form, medication, and strength which are most appropriate for your patient.
Ketoprofen topical or transdermal gel
Ketamine transdermal gel
Ketamine/Ketoprofen/Gabapentin transdermal gel
Lidocaine/Prilocaine topical gel
Triple-Anesthetic gel – benzocaine/lidocaine/tetracaine (“BLT”)
Gabapentin/Clonidine in PLO (Pluronic Lecithin Organogel)
Piroxicam tablet triturates
Ketoprofen/Cyclobenzaprine topical gel