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Evid Based Nurs 8:20 doi:10.1136/ebn.8.1.20
  • Treatment

Review: topical NSAIDs reduce pain in osteoarthritis only during the first 2 weeks of use

Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) v placebo or oral NSAIDs for osteoarthritis*

Outcomes Topical NSAIDS v placebo Topical NSAIDs v oral NSAIDs
Number of comparisons (n) Pooled effect size (95% CI) Number of comparisons (n) Pooled effect size (CI)
*Abbreviations defined in glossary.
†Significant result favouring topical NSAIDs over placebo.
‡Significant result favouring oral over topical NSAIDs.
Pain relief (1 wk) 9 (1000) 0.41 (0.16 to 0.66)† 1 (208) −0.38 (−0.66 to −0.10)‡
Pain relief (2 wks) 8 (893) 0.40 (0.15 to 0.65)† 1 (208) −0.19 (−0.47 to 0.09)
Pain relief (3 wks) 4 (442) 0.05 (−0.11 to 0.22) 2 (529) −0.26 (−0.68 to 0.16)
Pain relief (4 wks) 5 (558) 0.04 (−0.11 to 0.19) 1 (208) −0.10 (−0.37 to 0.18)
Improved function (1 wk) 4 (566) 0.37 (0.20 to 0.53)† 1 (208) −0.32 (−0.60 to −0.04)‡
Improved function (2 wks) 4 (540) 0.35 (0.19 to 0.53)† 1 (208) −0.24 (−0.52 to 0.04)
Improved function (3 wks) 1 (208) 0.10 (−0.18 to 0.38) 2 (529) −0.11 (−0.28 to 0.06)
Improved function (4 wks) 1 (208) 0.26 (−0.02 to 0.54) 1 (208) −0.10 (−0.38 to 0.17)
Reduced stiffness (1 wk) 1 (74) 0.64 (0.19 to 1.09)† Not assessed Not assessed
Reduced stiffness (2 wks) 1 (81) 0.33 (−0.13 to 0.79) Not assessed Not assessed

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