Have rubefacients been shown the red light?
Have you got a cupboard full of those creams that you rub on to soothe sore muscles and they make your skin red and hot? That must work, mustn’t it? Well a Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews. In systematic reviews we search for and summarize studies that answer a specific research question (e.g. is paracetamol effective and safe for treating back pain?). The studies are identified, assessed, and summarized by using a systematic and predefined approach. They inform recommendations for healthcare and research. has just been updated with the latest evidence on these topical ‘rubefacients’; the lotion or potion contains a drug (in this review they all contained salicylates, a commonly used rubefacient) which increases the blood flow, hence the reddening effect. They were used for acute painful conditions, sprains, and chronic ones, like osteoarthritis.
Bottom line? There’s no good evidence that they give useful pain relief. You can read more by visiting the link below.
Evidently Cochrane has been shortlisted as one of the top 10 health organization blogs in the UK Blog Awards 2015! Do explore the site – we hope there are blogs here to interest everyone. You can also follow us – and talk to us – on Twitter @ukcochranecentr and @SarahChapman30
Derry S, Matthews PR L, Wiffen PJ, Moore R. Salicylate-containing rubefacients for acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 11. Art. No.: CD007403. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007403.pub3 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD007403/SYMPT_topical-rubefacients-for-acute-and-chronic-musculoskeletal-pain-in-adults#sthash.fzJsCZFk.dpuf