Do you suffer from symptoms of numbness, “pins and needles” feeling, shooting, burning, or stabbing pain, you could be experiencing neuropathic pain. While there are several oral medications to treat neuropathic pain, some people may need a combination of medications including oral and topical medications to manage their neuropathic pain. Some people may also have issues with oral medications like side effects, or drug interactions, that would lead them to prefer to use a topical pain reliever. There are many topical over-the-counter pain medications, including lidocaine, menthol, diclofenac gel, and capsaicin.
What is capsaicin?
Capsaicin is a compound naturally found in chili peppers. It works to treat pain through topical application on the skin. When applied to painful areas, capsaicin causes an initial sensation of heat and pain, followed by pain relief. Capsaicin is readily available at many drug stores over-the-counter in the form of creams or ointments.
What is Qutenza?
Qutenza is a prescription form of capsaicin that is administered as a patch to the skin. It is approved for use to treat neuropathic pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and neuropathic pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) of the feet.
Qutenza is different from the capsaicin available over the counter because it is in the form of a patch, rather than cream or ointment. It is also different because it can only be applied once every 3 months and administered only by a health care provider. For those who suffer from PHN, your health care provider will apply the patch for 60 minutes. For DPM, the patch is applied by the provider for 30 minutes. The most common side effects associated with the Qutenza patch are application site pain, erythema, and pruritis (itching).
Qutenza may be useful for people who have exhausted other forms of treatment for DPN or PHN and are looking for pain relief. It may also be useful for people who have issues applying creams or ointments more frequently (ex. Daily or multiple times daily), since Qutenza is an every 3-month treatment. If you want to learn more, visit the resources below and discuss with your health care provider the best treatment options for your individual situation.
Read our blog about Treating Chronic Pain More Safely
Disclaimer: This blog is written for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen online.