Osteoarthritis (OA) contributes to significant medical and socioeconomic burden in many populations. Its prevalence is expected to rise continuously owing to the combined effects of aging and increase in risk factors, including obesity, physical inactivity, and joint injuries. Pain is a hallmark presentation of OA.
Topical nonsteroidal anti‐inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are recommended by many international guidelines as an early treatment option of the management of osteoarthritic pain. However, the use of topical NSAIDs remains low in Malaysia and appears not to be a preferred agent in managing OA pain by prescribers. There is also limited guidance from local medical bodies on the use of topical NSAIDs to manage OA pain.
This consensus recommendation is intended to serve as a practical guide for healthcare practitioners on the use of topical NSAIDs in the management of OA pain. Eight statements and recommendations were finalized covering the areas of OA burden, topical NSAIDs formulations, safety and efficacy of topical NSAIDs, and patient education. Robust evidence is available to support the efficacy and safety of topical NSAIDs, with its benefits further strengthened by ease of use and access. Taking these into consideration, we recommend that healthcare practitioners advocate for the early use of topical NSAIDs over oral NSAIDs for mild‐to‐moderate OA pain, while engaging in a shared decision‐making process with patients for optimal clinical outcomes.