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Capsaicin therapy is an innovative and non-invasive treatment used to treat peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP).
Why do I need capsaicin therapy?
Peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP) is pain associated with nerves in the skin due to damage to the peripheral nervous system. A number of things can cause this, including underlying diseases such as shingles and thyroid disorder, or tissue damage from earlier injuries or scarring. The pain can be felt as a severe ache or burning sensation, or stabbing and shooting pains that can be very difficult to live with.
Capsaicin is the naturally occurring compound that gives chilli peppers their heat. Studies have found that it can be effective in treating PNP as it can block pain receptors within the affected nerves.
Capsaicin treatment is usually delivered via patches, which are administered by a nurse or pain management specialist at hospital. After identifying and marking the painful areas of skin requiring treatment, the patches will be cut to size and then placed on your skin, with a dressing or tape on top to keep it in place. Depending on the part of the body being treated, the patches will then remain on for 30-60 minutes before being carefully removed. Your skin will then be gently cleansed. Your skin may sting and feel hot during the treatment, and some people experience side-effects such as blisters and itching – although this is rare and when they do occur, they usually resolve fairly quickly.
You’ll be able to go home immediately afterwards and carry on as normal, although you may be advised to avoid very hot showers, exposing the treated areas to direct sunlight and vigorous exercise for a few days, as your skin may still be a bit sensitive to heat.
While capsaicin therapy is not 100% effective and it can take up to 14 days for the full benefits to be felt. However, many people experience significant reduction in pain levels that can last for months. If the treatment is effective for you, you’ll be able to discuss having further sessions in the future.