Lately I've had so much hip and buttock pain that it was affecting how I walk and was probably a big factor in some of my falls. No, somehow I don't think it was responsible for the one where I thought getting out of bed via the foot board was faster and smarter than getting out via the side! (That colored link will give you a funny -I hope - account.)
When one of my doctors examined me, he found numerous areas of muscle spasm and even bursitis on both sides. Local injections with lidocaine (for trigger points in the areas of muscle spasm) and cortisone with lidocaine (for inflammation of the bursa) helped but I still had a fair amount of pain in the hip and buttock area to the point that I was waking up in huge pain. Usually, if I can finally fall asleep, pain doesn't wake me up, so you can imagine that I was NOT a happy camper - all week. (And you know what they say, "If mama ain't happy..." Yeah! Cheerful place around here, let me tell you!)
I was already taking a maximum dose of Celebrex, which is an extremely safe anti-inflammatory medication, compared to the other anti-imflammatories out there. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but I've long wanted to point out that Celebrex is much safer on the stomach than the other anti-inflammatories and is well tolerated by most, EVEN the stuff that's over the counter like Advil, Aleve, MotrinIB. HOWEVER, the one draw-back is that you can't take Celebrex if you are allergic to sulfa-drugs. (Thank heavens, a problem I DON'T have and it works well for me! Yipee!)
Another point I've wanted to make is that when you read the side-effects of this gel, as with many other medications, the warning is overblown because it has to be. That is, in the case of the gel, the same warning goes as for the oral meds, which we'll cover later. However, you'll see why this is even a bit "deceiving" and certainly alarming. But then you guys know how I feel about the FDA, etc. Lyrica and Lunesta on the market despite SUICIDAL ideation and actions, but Vioxx taken off? Nuts!
But back on track... I'm already taking a narcotic medication - as needed for pain - along with a few other medications in my arsenal that should work but aren't. So we got to the point where I've gone for the numerous injections in the hip and buttock area. It's always worked before but this time we were really having trouble with the pain. It was helping but not enough. Mind you, I don't expect to be pain-free, but I can't live at a 9.5 and let the shots or meds get me to a 9. It's hardly worth the "poisoning" of my body. So, unfortunately, I was still having significant discomfort. What's a girl to do? (That last line seems to be a thread in my posts lately.)
Fortunately, there is a topical anti-inflammatory medication which has been approved by the FDA for osteoarthritis. Any licensed physician can prescribe a medication "off-label," which as many of you know, means that if a medicine is approved for an indication such as arthritis, the doctor can legally prescribe it for other conditions such as bursitis, tendinitis, etc. That's what's happened in my case. My doctor told me that the topical preparation, Voltaren Gel, might help me since it's effective in blocking the inflammation found in arthritic joints. I applied Voltaren Gel liberally to both hips and buttock area (lots of real estate going on there!) and noticed a significant improvement in the pain and stiffness.
So, what is this stuff anyway?
Voltaren is the brand name of diclofenac, an extremely potent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID). Taken by mouth, it can relieve the pain, swelling and stiffness associated with arthritis. However, it has major draw-backs. It can cause bleeding stomach ulcers, kidney failure, and liver damage when taken orally.
On the other hand, the gel form is far safer than the pill form since only a tiny amount of the medication gets into the general circulation. The bulk of the medication stays in the area where you put it and penetrates the skin to get to the area of inflammation. Therefore, as mentioned above, Voltaren Gel is far safer than any of other anti-inflammatory medications even those that are over the counter, such as Advil, Aleve, Motrin IB, etc. Furthermore, Voltaren Gel has been around for well over over five years, so side effects have been seen and reported, analyzed, with no cases of stomach, kidney, liver toxicity.
Every year in this country approximately 16,500 people die of gastrointestinal complications due to ORAL anti-inflammatory medications. I can't stress this strongly enough. Taken as prescribed, ORAL anti-inflammatory medication can kill you or harm you, especially if you are susceptible to side-effects due to advanced age, have a prior history of ulcer disease, and/or weakened system due to other diseases.
On the other hand, as my pain specialist explained, the topical gel form of Voltaren is very safe. The only real problem with using this product is that if you are allergic to aspirin you MUST NOT use this product as its use could trigger a severe allergic reaction. Otherwise, this preparation is very safe and potentially very effective as was my experience yesterday. I'll let you know how it goes, but for the moment, I've got a bit of relief! That's great in my book.
As always, hoping everyone is feeling their best, only better! Ciao and paka!
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