How effective are topical rubefacients for acute and chronic painful musculoskeletal conditions in adults?
Studies were generally small. There was a variety of interventions and outcomes used in these studies, and a range of different methods for measuring pain intensity or pain relief. Adverse events and withdrawals were generally poorly reported with little detail provided. Most studies did not provide details of the volume of cream applied, though some specified the application schedule.
Rubefacients (containing salicylates or nicotinamides) cause irritation of the skin, and are believed to relieve various musculoskeletal pains. They are available on prescription, and are common components in over-the-counter preparations.