Nudo, S., Jimenez‐Garcia, J. A. & Dover, G.
Scand. J. Med. Sci. Sports 33, 1884–1900 (2023).
Athletes are injured frequently and often take analgesic medication. Moreover, athletes commonly use non-prescription topical and oral medications with little guidance. Despite wide use, relatively few studies exist on the efficacy of pain medication in injured athletes compared to a placebo.
To determine efficacy of topical or oral medications in pain reduction compared to a placebo in injured athletes.
A systematic review and meta-analysis.
We conducted an electronic search using Medline/Pubmed, Web of Science, Ovid, and SportDiscus for all literature relating to topical or oral medications in athletes for pain management post-injury. Two reviewers screened the studies and measured their quality. To determine efficacy, we calculated the Hedges’ g value. We created forest plots with 95% CI to graphically summarize the meta-analyses.
There was a significant pooled effect size reflecting a reduction in pain outcomes for the topical treatment versus placebo (g = −0.64; 95% CI [−0.89, −0.39]; p < 0.001). There was not a significant reduction in pain outcomes for the oral treatment versus placebo (g = −0.26; 95% CI [−0.60, 0.17]; p = 0.272).
Topical medications were significantly better at reducing pain compared to oral medications versus a placebo in injured athletes. These results are different when compared to other studies that used experimentally induced pain versus musculoskeletal injuries. The results from our study suggest that athletes should use topical medications for pain reduction, as it is more effective, and there are less reported adverse effects compared to oral medication.Read More