Topical nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs for acute soft tissue injuries

Ann Pharmacother. 1995 Jul-Aug;29(7-8):780-2. doi: 10.1177/106002809502907-822.


The empirical evidence supporting the use of topical NSAIDs in acute soft tissue injuries is weak. However, patient ratings of improvement consistently favor NSAID treatment over placebo. Although it is very difficult to differentiate the placebo effect from the natural course of improvement in these patients, the overall impression given by these studies is that of superior efficacy of topical NSAIDs over placebo. The study by Akermark and Forsskahl suggests that indomethacin applied topically is as effective as therapeutic doses of oral indomethacin. Further studies need to be conducted to generalize this conclusion to other NSAIDs. Studies comparing the relative efficacy of topical NSAIDs with counterirritants available over-the-counter (e.g., menthol, camphor, methylsalicylate) also would be useful.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Naproxen / therapeutic use
  • Piroxicam / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sprains and Strains / drug therapy*
  • Tendinopathy / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Piroxicam
  • Naproxen