Pain Relief Patches: Types and Their Applications

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Understanding pain relief patches: types and their applications

Pain relief patches, also known as transdermal patches, are a popular method for managing pain without the need for oral medication. These patches deliver medication directly through the skin and into the bloodstream, providing localised relief to the affected area. Let’s look at different types of pain patches and their applications.

The science behind pain relief patches

Transdermal patches science behind pain relief patches is that utilise a delivery system that allows medication to be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. The patches consist of several layers, including an adhesive layer, a reservoir containing the medication, and a backing layer to protect the patch. The adhesive layer adheres to the skin, ensuring that the medication is continuously released over a specific period.

The medication in pain patches is often a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These medications help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and alleviate discomfort. By delivering the medication directly to the affected area, muscle pain patches can provide targeted relief without the potential side effects associated with oral medications.

Types of pain relief patches

Prescription patches

Prescription patches are typically recommended for chronic or severe pain conditions that require stronger medication. These patches contain potent analgesics, such as opioids, which help manage intense pain. Prescription patches are only available with a doctor's prescription and should be used under medical supervision.

Examples of prescription muscle pain patches include Fentanyl patches, which provide long-lasting relief for severe pain, and Lidocaine patches, which numb the area and provide relief from localised pain.

OTC patches

Over-the-counter pain plasters, like Hansaplast heat plasters, are readily available without a prescription. These patches contain milder analgesics, such as belladonna plaster or capsicum plaster. They are commonly used for muscle aches, joint pain, and minor injuries. OTC patches are easy to apply and can be an effective option for managing mild to moderate pain.

Hansaplast patches, for example, utilise a combination of heat therapy and ayurvedic ingredients to provide targeted relief. The heat increases blood flow to the affected area, promoting healing and reducing pain. The active ingredients in these patches help soothe the pain and reduce inflammation.


Applications and how to use pain relief patches

Pain relief patches have versatile applications. They can be used on the back, neck, shoulder, or wherever you experience muscle pain. Here are a few applications of pain relief patches:

  1. Muscle pain: Pain relief patches can be used to alleviate discomfort and soreness in muscles caused by overexertion, strain, or injury.

  2. Joint pain: For individuals with arthritis or joint-related pain, these patches can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain in the affected area.

  3. Sports injuries: Pain relief patches can be used to manage minor sports injuries like sprain injury, strains, or bruises.

  4. Back pain: They are commonly used for relieving back pain, providing targeted relief to the affected region.

  5. Minor aches and pains: Pain relief patches can be applied for minor aches and pains resulting from everyday activities or postural issues.

Here’s how to use pain relief patches:

  1. Clean the skin: Before applying the patch, ensure the skin is clean, dry, and free from any lotions, oils, or creams. Wash the area gently with soap and water, and then pat it dry.

  2. Choose the right patch: There are various types of pain relief patches available, containing different active ingredients. Choose the patch that suits your specific pain relief needs.

  3. Read instructions: Always read the instructions provided with the pain relief patch carefully. Follow the recommended usage guidelines, including how long to wear the patch and how often to replace it.

  4. Apply the patch: Peel off the protective backing of the patch and apply it directly to the affected area. Press it firmly onto the skin to ensure good adhesion.

  5. Avoid sensitive areas: Avoid applying patches to areas with broken or irritated skin, wounds, rashes, or near the eyes, mouth, and nose.

  6. Timing and duration: Follow the recommended wear time specified on the packaging. Most patches provide relief for several hours, but the duration may vary depending on the brand and type.

  7. Dispose properly: Once the recommended time is up or if the patch loses its adhesion, remove it gently from the skin. Dispose of used patches properly, following the disposal guidelines provided with the product.

  8. Avoid overuse: While pain relief patches can be helpful, it's essential not to overuse them. If pain persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and treatment.

Remember, pain relief patches are designed for temporary relief of mild to moderate pain. If you experience severe or chronic pain, it is best to consult a healthcare professional for a comprehensive assessment and appropriate management.

The advantages of pain relief patches

Pain patches offer several advantages over other forms of pain management:
Here's are a few of them:

  1. Targeted relief: One of the significant advantages of pain relief patches is their ability to provide targeted relief. Since the medication is delivered directly to the affected area through the skin, it can focus on the specific site of pain. This targeted approach allows for more effective pain management compared to oral medications that affect the entire body.

  2. Convenience: Pain plasters offer convenience in application and usage. They are easy to apply and adhere to the skin, making them suitable for various body parts. Once applied, the patches can be worn discreetly under clothing, allowing individuals to continue their daily activities while receiving continuous pain relief. This convenience eliminates the need for frequent dosing or carrying around bulky medication bottles.

  3. Reduced side effects: Compared to oral medications, pain patches can minimise the risk of systemic side effects. Since the medication bypasses the digestive system and is absorbed through the skin, it avoids the potential gastrointestinal complications often associated with oral pain medications. This makes pain patches a preferred option for individuals with sensitive stomachs, those prone to gastric irritation, or those taking other medications that may interact with oral painkillers.

  4. Long-lasting effect: Some pain plasters provide extended or sustained relief over a significant period. They are designed to release the medication gradually, ensuring a continuous therapeutic effect. This long-lasting effect eliminates the need for frequent reapplication, allowing individuals to experience relief without interruption. For individuals with chronic pain conditions, this can greatly improve their quality of life by providing consistent relief throughout the day or even several days.

  5. Versatility: Pain relief patches are versatile in their application. They can be used to manage various types of pain, including muscle pain, joint pain, arthritis, and sports injuries. The wide range of available pain relief patches caters to different needs and preferences. Whether it's a prescription patch for severe pain or an over-the-counter patch for milder discomfort, individuals have options to suit their specific requirements.

Potential side effects of pain relief patches

  1. Skin irritation: A common side effect of pain relief patches is skin irritation at the application site. This can present as redness, itching, or a rash. Skin irritation is often caused by an allergic reaction to the adhesive or other components of the patch.

  2. Allergic reactions: Some individuals may develop allergic reactions to the medication contained in the patch. Immediate medical attention should be sought if a severe allergic reaction occurs.

  3. Drug interactions: Pain plasters, especially prescription patches, can potentially interact with other medications. It is important to consult a healthcare professional and inform them of any medications you are currently taking to avoid potential interactions or contraindications.


In summary, the advantages of muscle pain patches include targeted relief, convenience in application, reduced side effects, long-lasting effectiveness, and versatility in managing various types of pain. By harnessing the science behind transdermal delivery, these patches provide a valuable alternative for pain management, improving the quality of life for individuals seeking effective and convenient pain relief.

However, it's important to note that pain relief patches may not be suitable for everyone. It is essential to follow the instructions provided and consult a healthcare professional before using any pain relief patch, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.


Please note that the above recommendations are general care tips. Consult a healthcare professional in case of any uncertainty around wound treatment and healing.

Always see your doctor if a wound is deep, bleeding profusely or showing signs of infection. For diabetic patients especially, proper wound care holds the utmost importance. Do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or your podiatrist, even when it comes to minor wounds and cut–especially if they’re on your feet.
The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Although compiled with great care, it is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have or suspect a health problem, consult your doctor immediately. 

For further information regarding Hansaplast products, please contact us via email at


Medically Reviewed By Dr. Percy Bharucha

Dr. Bharucha holds a rich 37-year experience as a Senior Instructor and Master Trainer certified by HSSC, ITLS (USA), and the American Heart Association, while also serving as the Director of the Lifesupporters Institute of Health Sciences in Mumbai.