PennSaid 2: New Topical Anti-Inflammatory for Osteoarthritis Knee Pain

Patient Expert

Do you have osteoarthritis in your knees? Then the new PennSaid 2 may be the answer for you

Anyone who lives with arthritis has a number of tools up their sleeve to manage pain. One of these may be topical anti-inflammatories; creams, gels or liquids that can be applied directly to the place on your body that hurts. Quite a few are available over-the-counter.

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is available as a topical over-the-counter in the 1% Voltaren gel. PennSaid is a prescription topical anti-inflammatory. Until now, it has been available in a 1.5% solution. This could applied up to four times a day, for a maximum of 40 drops daily.

The new PennSaid 2 is stronger at 2% and has the benefit of only being applied twice a day. An additional innovation is the metered-dose pump, which delivers a dose of 20 mg of diclofenac per pump use. This means you don't have to count drops or worry that you have miscounted. Studies have shown that PennSaid can work as well as the maximum daily dose of the tablet version of diclofenac.

Why use PennSaid?

If you have arthritis primarily in one or two joints, such as osteoarthritis in the knees, PennSaid could be a valuable tool in managing your pain. Applying a topical NSAID directly to the affected joint twice a day may be a better option than taking an oral medication. Transdermal anti-inflammatories can significantly reduce gastrointestinal side effects. If you have a hard time tolerating oral NSAIDs, treating your pain in a highly localized way may be a safer option for you.

How to Apply

Wash your hands well before applying PennSaid, as well as after you have applied the medication. You may want to buy a box of vinyl medical examination gloves to wear when applying. Make sure your knee does not have any rashes, cuts or infections.

Press the pump on the PennSaid bottle firmly twice, either into your hand or directly on the knee. Spread the medication evenly on all sides of the knee, front, sides and back. Make sure the area is dry before covering with clothes, insect repellent or sunscreen. You should also avoid taking a bath or shower until half an hour after the application so you don't wash it off. Unless you're in a lot of pain and have difficulty moving, you may want to delay applying PennSaid until after your shower.

Precautions and Side Effects

Most commonly, PennSaid can cause mild dryness or irritation where it's applied. However, although PennSaid is a safer option than oral NSAIDs, it still does, more rarely, have the potential for certain serious side effects. They include the classic NSAID side effects, including ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular risks. Elderly people have a higher risk factor for these side effects, so the age and previous health conditions of the person using this drug can increase the risk of side effects. As well, if you've had allergic reactions, asthma or hives when taking NSAIDs or aspirin, you may be more likely to react to PennSaid. You should not take any other NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, while using PennSaid.

People react differently to medication and each situation is unique. I what works well for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. As well, one person may experience side effects, while someone else doesn't. If you have arthritis in one or two joints, PennSaid may be a valuable tool in in your pain management program. Talk to your doctor if you're interested in learning more.

Lene writes the award-winning blog The Seated View. She's the author ofYour Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain and 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain.