High-Tech Plaster Delivers Pain-Relief to Arthritic Joints
Scientists have developed a high-tech plaster which can deliver pain-relief directly to sore joints when it is needed. The elastic patch has been developed to help reduce discomfort for those with arthritis.
The new plaster is supposed to offer a more efficient method of pain-relief. Pills or injections take some time to work, while rub-on gels and creams have to be reapplied regularly. The plaster automatically delivers medication directly to the site of pain at times when symptoms are most likely to occur.
The elastic patch is the size of a large ordinary plaster, and is made from a plastic film which contains tiny capsules that are loaded with whatever drug the patient needs. The plaster is attached to arthritic joints and is activated when the joints bend or move – when they’re most likely to become painful. As the joint bends, the plaster is stretched and the capsules are pulled out of shape, releasing some of the drug inside. The drug can then be absorbed through pores and delivered to the target tissue. Patients can also stretch the plaster themselves when they feel the need for pain-relief.
There is also another version of the plaster which works in mostly the same way, except it is equipped with tiny needles on the end of the capsules, so drugs which are normally injected can still be delivered effectively.
Currently, the effects of the plaster are being analysed in additional tests and clinical trials, so it is not yet available to the public.
“This is potentially a very exciting new way of giving help to patients in pain,” says Dr Michael Platt, a consultant in anaesthetics at Imperial College and St Mary’s Hospital in London. “This new device offers a way of giving analgesics only when necessary via the skin, either by absorption from the skin surface or via tiny needles that penetrate the skin. It represents a very interesting and exciting way of improving the lives of those with chronic or long-term pain problems.”