Interesting research from the Cochrane institute (who systematically review and combine research to increase its power) suggests that topical (applied externally) NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories) are safe and effective in treating mild to moderate acute musculoskeletal pain in adults.
Obviously I am not suggesting this as an alternative to visiting your osteopath but it is a great alternative to taking tablets orally, since the concentration required for those can cause unpleasant or even serious side-effects.
The research doesn't test one brand against the other, although they were able to identify that gel formulations of diclofenac, ibuprofen and ketoprofen, and some diclofenac patches, were the most effective, other formulations were more effective than placebo but not by much. Measured side-effects were no worse than placebo.
This research is not able to compare topical and oral preparations but other recent research has shown that topical diclofenac solution can provide as effective pain relief for people with knee or hand osteoarthritis as oral diclofenac, so the suspicion is that the results may well be similar across the board.
All in all this is really good news for those who can't take NSAIDs due to, for example the effect on their stomach, more info at the Cochrane website here