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Pharmacy and Medications

Antihistamine for Muscular Pain?



Dear Pharmacists,

I often use topical cream for muscle pain after sport activity or when I have pain after office work. The product I use is antiphlogistic products containing Camphor, Menthol...but recently I have used a Korean products which contains similar contents to that of Antiphlogistine except that it has Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) in it too.

I wonder why Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) is used in this preparation as from what I know antihistamine like Benadryl is used orally for allergies or used topically for itching from insect bite rather than to relieve pain.

So why Benadryl is used for muscle pain? Does this apply to topical form of the products or the oral form works too in relieving pain?


I am not familiar with the use of diphenhydramine in any topical preparation used for anything other than insect bites and other allergic-type reactions. A brief search of medical literature turned up some potential use of antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, in nerve pain. The information was very limited, and treatment was not as effective as other treatments.

I do not know why diphenhydramine would be in a product marketed for muscle pain; however, if it works for you, then you should have no problem with it. I would not recommend using it over large areas of your body, however. Medications can be absorbed through the skin, and you may experience some of the same side effects as with oral doses of diphenhydramine.

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Response by:

Michael  Ganio, PharmD Michael Ganio, PharmD
Clinical Applications Pharmacist
Wexner Medical Center
The Ohio State University