I first started having trouble with my back a few years ago. I woke up one morning to find that the low wall outside my house had somehow crumbled in the night, blocking that section of the pavement. Fortunately my sister was staying at the time, and between us we managed to piece the sections of brick back together in some sort of order to clear the path. We were feeling very proud of our handiwork until later in the day, I bent over to pick something up and was suddenly in so much pain I could hardly move! Fortunately, it wore off over the coming days, and I was soon back to normal. Since then, however, the problem has occasionally reoccurred, triggered off by seemingly easy movements that leave me in pain for days. The last time it happened, I decided to try something different from my usual painkillers, and bought this Ibuleve gel for about £5.
I was hoping that applying a gel directly onto the area causing me trouble (my lower back) would provide targeted pain relief, enabling me to move more easily without having to pop a load of pills every few hours. As the brand name suggests, this gel contains Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug which is often used to treat muscular and rheumatic pain, and any injury or condition involving swelling. The gel's Ibuprofen content is 5%, and it is the only active ingredient.
The white tube of gel is contained within a blue box, on the back of which are details of how to use the gel and a few warnings (these are given in greater detail on the instruction leaflet inside the box). These are pretty standard- don't use on children under 12, or if you're pregnant/ breastfeeding/ allergic to any of the ingredients etc. The leaflet does state that using Ibuprofen in this gel form carries less risk of the side effects you can sometimes get from taking it orally, but it's still worth reading the blurb just in case.
The tube itself has a screw on lid, covering a wide, short nozzle. Being gel, the tube's contents are easy to squeeze out by applying a little pressure to the tube. The instructions state that you should apply 4-10cm gel (enough to thinly cover the affected area) and massage it gently until it's absorbed. You shouldn't apply more than 30cm in any given 24 hours, and you should leave 4 hours between applications, applying the gel no more than 3 times a day. Got all that?! Personally, I found such precise instructions hard to follow. It's virtually impossible to measure how much gel you're applying, particularly on a large area like your lower back, so I just stuck with the thin layer rule, and didn't worry too much about the exact amount of gel I was applying. I'm happy to say that my lack of calculation didn't result in any nasty side effects!
I found that the clear, cold gel was quickly and easily absorbed by my skin when I rubbed it in- very useful when you're applying it to an area usually covered by clothes. I was also pleased by the gel's lack of smell- it has a slight chemically whiff, but nothing majorly offensive or long-lasting. Once I'd massaged it in, the effects were almost immediate, and I found I could move my back a little more easily than before. I'm sure the massaging helped with this, but the gel certainly played a part.
I was, however, disappointed by the gel's lack of potency. The pain relief I experienced was noticeable, but by no means major, and I found that within about an hour I was back to my pre-gel level of pain, with another 3 hours to go before I could reapply it. The effects of taking paracetamol or ibuprofen orally are probably about the same, but definitely longer lasting.
For this reason, I probably wouldn't use this gel again if the old back problem returns, but would stick with oral painkillers. I would, however, use the gel for minor sprains or muscle aches on smaller areas of my body, as I think it would probably be quite succesful at tackling lower levels of pain. Fortunately, I've not had the need to test it out in this capacity yet, but I'm keeping the tube just in case- it has a shelf life of several years. For my back, however, it just wasn't powerful enough to produce the effects I'd hoped for, probably due to the intensity of the pain and the widespread area it covered.
New! Ibuprofen is a proven non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) which works by relieving pain, reducing swelling and easing inflammation. The formulation of this gel is designed to be rapidly absorbed into the skin and target the point of pain. Ibuleve Speed Relief Gel provides fast local relief of muscular backache, rheumatic and muscular pain, sprains, strains and sports injuries. Pain relieving, anti-inflammatory. Contains Ibuprofen 5.0%w/w Clear, colourless gel. Non-fragranced. Non-greasy and non-sticky.Directions for use: Lightly apply a thin layer of 4 to 10cm of the gel to the affected area. Massage gently until absorbed.Wash hands after use, unless treating them. Warning:Because Ibuleve Speed Relief Gel is applied to the skin, directly over the painful area, there is less risk of the complications that sometimes arise when ibuprofen are taken by mouth.However Do not Use this product in any of the following cases without seeking medical advice first:If you have ever suffered from asthma, have a stomach ulcer (also called a peptic or gastric ulcer), have ever suffered from kidney problems or already taking aspirin or other painkillers. Not recommended for use on children under the age of 12 years.For external use only. Other ingredients:IMS Carbomer Propylene Glycol Diethylamine and purified water. 40g metal screw top tube.Common Misspellings: Ibiprofen, Ibuproffen, ibeprofen, Ibeleve, Ibeleive