Fibromyalgia article

Topical capsaicin therapy for fibromyalgia


When it comes to the treatment of pain with fibromyalgia most people have at one time or another tried various topical creams. Some people may find relief with arthritis or menthol creams while others do not. There is a great deal of research on capsaicin based topical based creams that is quite promising. Capsaicin is what gives chili peppers their tongue scorching heat but has analgesic properties.  Capsaicin-based creams can be purchased without a prescription or with and are used for conditions such as back pain, muscle pain, arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and nerve pain.

What is fascinating about how capsaicin works in particular for fibromyalgia is that it is believed it lowers substance P in nerve endings at the location it is applied to. Substance P is quite important when it comes to fibromyalgia because it is involved in sending the pain impulses from the brain and the amounts of substance P in fibromyalgia subjects is significantly higher than normal. The idea that this topical agent can temporarily dampen that signal that we know is on hyper drive in fibromyalgia syndrome makes products using capsaicin intriguing right there.


The study

A study published in the Rheumatology International Journal, Jul 28, 2012, looked at topical capsaicin therapy in severely affected fibromyalgia patients using 130 people. There was the control group of 60 and the group to use the capsaicin therapy of 70 people. The topical capsaicin cream has a concentration of 0.075% and was used three times daily for a duration of six weeks.

The study results indicated: “there were significant improvements in the capsaicin group in the myalgic [pain] score (5.21 vs 3.8, p = 0.02) and global subjective improvement (22.8% vs 5%, p = 0.001).
Six weeks after the end of the treatment, the experimental group showed significant differences in Visual Analogue Scale of depression (5.63 vs 7.35, p = 0.02), Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (67.89 vs 77.7, p = 0.02), role limitations due to emotional problems (36.17 vs 17.2, p = 0.05), Fatigue Severity Scale (6.2 vs 6.6, p = 0.04), myalgic score (3.94 vs 2.66, p = 0.02) and pressure pain threshold (79.25 vs 56.71, p = 0.004).” Rheumatology International

In conclusion, the study demonstrated a cream with the concentrated of 0.075% is effective for short term fibromyalgia pain relief in localized regions when applied three times a day over a six-week period of time. Capsaicin creams come in varying strengths from 1% to 0.025%.

How to use

Capsaicin is an irritant so it will cause a burning sensation when applied to the skin and for some people, this can be too intense and for others, this feels quite good. Keep in mind you can get it in different strengths. Also keep in mind, as an irritant it is a good idea to be careful with it. Do not use on skin that is damaged or wounded. Always wash your hands afterward and avoid contact with your eyes, nose, and mouth. When you apply to an area avoid heat and direct sunlight as well as hot water as this can increase the burning sensation or cause an increased itching sensation. Do not apply after a shower or bath for the same reason. There may be temporary burning or itching, but obviously, if there is a more severe reaction discontinue use. And if you have had a reaction to capsaicin or hot peppers before this would not be a recommended product.



Source: Rheumatology International, Jul 28, 2012