Formulations of topical diclofenac, ibuprofen, ketoprofen, piroxicam, and indomethacin demonstrated significantly higher rates of clinical success (more participants with at least 50% pain relief) than matching topical placebo (moderate or high quality data ). Benzydamine did not. Three drug and formulation combinations had NNTs for clinical success below 4. For diclofenac, the Emulgel® formulation had the lowest NNT of (95% CI to ) in two studies using at least 50% pain intensity reduction as the outcome . Diclofenac plasters other than Flector® also had a low NNT of ( to ) based on good or excellent responses in some studies. Ketoprofen gel had an NNT of ( to ), from five studies in the 1980s, some with less well defined outcomes. Ibuprofen gel had an NNT of ( to ) from two studies with outcomes of marked improvement or complete remission. All other drug and formulation combinations had NNT values above 4, indicating lesser efficacy .
The investigators conducted a clinical examination comprising general examination and specific examination of the musculoskeletal system at inclusion, on day 0 and at the end of treatment (day 5). These examinations included feed intake, general behaviour, posture, lameness and pain on manipulation assessments and rectal temperature measurement. In addition, at the end of the treatment, the investigator evaluated the overall efficacy and palatability of the treatment. Diseases of the limbs, especially soft tissue injuries (contusions) and joint disorders (sprains and luxations) of less than 2 weeks duration were the most frequently diagnosed.
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