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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 1, 2012

Treatment with topical capsaicin: Experience from a pain clinic

  • Marianne Rørbæk , Lise Ventzel and Hanne Gottrup



Neuropathic pain is usually treated with antidepressants and anticonvulsant. The use of systemic treatment is, however, limited due to poor tolerability and low efficacy. Qutenza, a topical capsaicin patch (8%), is a relatively new treatment for patients with peripheral neuropathic pain (PNP) conditions. The indication for using topical capsaicin treatment is peripheral neuropathic pain in patients without diabetes.


To describe the use of topical capsaicin treatment in a pain clinic in patients with PNP.


Case series of patients in a neuropathic pain clinic.


Since October 2010, 40 patients with PNP with different aetiologies have been treated with topical capsaicin; 14 patients had nerve injuries in feet or lower leg or polyneuropathy, 13 patients had nerve lesions related to fingers, hands or arms, seven patients had pain after thoracotomy, four patients postherpetic neuralgia, and two patients had other lesions.

Almost half of the patients (47%) were responders and achieved a decrease in pain intensity as well as increased their quality of life (QoL). Responders received 1–6 treatments with capsaicin. Most responders were found in the post-thoracotomy group, of which 86% had a clinical significant reduction in pain. In the group with injuries to the hands, fingers and arms, 46% experienced a reduction in pain. Only 23% of patients with PNP in the feet and lower leg were responders; these patients had a clinical significant increase in QoL.


In 40 patients with PNP who were treated with topical capsaicin, we found an increase in QoL and a decrease in mean pain intensity of 3 measured on a VAS scale (0–10) in 47% of the treated patients.

Published Online: 2012-07-01
Published in Print: 2012-07-01

© 2012 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

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