Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Hospital warns against overusing pain relief patches

By Liu Pin-chuan and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A physician at the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Nantou Hospital in Nantou County holds up a piece of sore patch on Sunday.

Photo: Liu Pin-chuan, Taipei Times

Overusing pain relief patches or creams could lead to liver damage, Nantou Hospital staff said on Monday following reports that a track and field athlete died from a heart attack linked to an overdose.

Analgesic patches are used in both traditional Chinese and Western medicine, hospital pharmacist Tseng Hui-min (曾惠敏) said.

In traditional Chinese medicine, they might contain methyl salicylate as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, capsaicin to provide heat, or mint to provide a cooling effect, she said.

In Western medicine, the patches typically contain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that alleviate pain and inflammation, she added.

However, there is a myth that topical treatments contain lower doses of drugs than oral medications, hospital vice superintendent Hung Shih-chang (洪世昌) said.

As the medication in analgesic patches is absorbed through the skin and travels throughout the entire body through the bloodstream, it could still trigger a full-body response, he said, adding that overusing the patches could cause a negative reaction.

While the patches are effective in reducing minor pain caused by stiffness in the neck, tendinitis, muscle strain, bruises or falls, if symptoms do not improve in two to three days or if people experience an allergic reaction, they should seek medical attention, Tseng said.

People should not put pain relief patches or creams on open wounds or rashes to prevent the wound from becoming infected, she said.

Patches should not be applied for more than six hours, as that could cause the skin to become red, swollen or itchy, Tseng said, adding that only one type of patch should be used at a time.

Depending on the dose contained, fewer than two to four patches should be worn at a time to prevent overburdening the liver, she added.

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