Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Bob Arnot

October 16, 2017

Dr. Bob Arnot, M.D.medical doctor, is an award-winning journalist, author of twelve books on nutrition and health, host of the Dr. Danger reality TV series, and previously Chief Medical Correspondent for NBC and CBS News, and Chief Foreign Correspondent for MSNBC and NBC. Dr. Arnot’s most recent book is “Change Your Coffee, Change Your Life.”

His broadcast accomplishments have earned him an Emmy Award, the Overseas Press Club Award, the Dupont Award, and a column from Vanity Fair naming him “Best Embedded Reporter,” Iraq Campaign. As befitting Dr. Danger, he was made an Honorary Blue Knight by the U.S. Marine Corps. He was Founder and Chief of the Lake Placid Sports Medical Center; was physician and member of the Board of Directors for the US Ski Team; and physician for the XIII Winter Olympic Games.

Dr. Arnot has also been involved in numerous international medical and humanitarian organizations. He was medical director for National Emergency Services. He served as a physician providing humanitarian relief in countries including Somalia, Sudan, Armenia, Congo, Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Iraq. He founded Operation Lifeline Iraq. Originally from Boston, MA, Dr. Arnot has a Bachelor of Medical Science degree from Dartmouth College and received his Doctor of Medicine, Master of Surgery from McGill University in Montreal.

Dr. Arnot is also an avid athlete who excels as a Paddleboard World Championship award winner.

  1. As a medical doctor who is extremely active with competitive sports, do you suffer from physical pain at times? What is your personal pain relief regimen?

I compete in punishing races including the 32-mile world championships for paddle boarding.  For this race, we cross the most dangerous ocean passage in the world with ocean swells as high as 20-feet and winds over 30-miles an hour.  I learned long ago that oral pain relievers can carry a high price in terms of side effects, even acetaminophen.  I competed three years ago having taken 5 ibuprofens and suffered debilitating gastritis and reflux the whole way.  Since then I have used topical pain relief which has little risk of systemic problems and starts working right away.

  1. You are in your sixth decade but don’t seem to have slowed down. What’s your secret for living an active, fit and vibrant life?

Never surrender! I have a rigorous athletic training program and a fantastic diet.  I don’t feel a day over 25 years old and compete and win races against athletes 40 years younger than me.  I rely on topical pain relief instead of oral meds so that I don’t suffer side effects.  Lidocaine is a local anesthetic most of us have heard of.  Now it’s available in a new liquid and cream product as well as a Gel patch from Salonpas® which I put on when I have pain after my workout.

  1. What are your top five tips for other 50+ year old folks for living a healthy, active and pain-free life?
  • Give good health a shot. Get your flu, shingles and pneumonia immunizations. Follow your doctor’s advice about regular cancer screening tests, stress tests and bone density measurements. Head off some of the problems of aging before they occur if you can.
  • Stay mentally alert. Read the newspaper every day. Do the crossword puzzle. Play bridge or chess. Take—or teach—a class. Keeping your mind engaged could ward off the brain changes that lead to Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Stay socially active, too. If friends and family are far away, see if you can communicate electronically via Skype or the like.
  • Don’t smoke. You’re never too old to quit.
  • Eat right. In addition to lots of fruits and vegetables and a few lean meats, older people should consume foods with vitamin B12, such as fortified cereals. Also, add flavor to foods with spices and herbs instead of salt and look for low-sodium packaged foods. Drink three cups of fat-free or low-fat milk throughout the day or the equivalent in yogurt, cheese or other dairy products.
  • Be physically active. Regular activity can help delay, prevent or manage many costly chronic diseases faced by adults 50 years or older. Try for at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. Do it in increments of 10 minutes or more. Bike, dance, walk for cardiovascular health. To help preserve your balance, add strength-building activities such as lifting small weights at least twice a week. Check with your doctor about the regimen that’s best for you.

If you develop body pain, you can still keep up your exercise efforts. Many older adults turn to topical pain relievers with lidocaine instead of over-the-counter tablets.

According to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, “[Lidocaine] is a highly effective pain reliever and its unique nonnarcotic and nonaddictive properties make it a benign alternative to opioids, without the risks and devastating side effects of opioids.”

  1. What is your experience with the Salonpas® Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Liquid and Salonpas Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Cream?

Hisamitsu America, the manufacturer of the Salonpas products, sent over samples of the new unscented Salonpas® Lido Plus cream and liquid products that are now available in retail outlets.  I like that the Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Liquid has a roller ball applicator which keeps my hands clean.  I can easily apply after a paddle-boarding session without any sticky feeling.  The Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Cream helps address my ‘tennis elbow’ and general pain management issues.  Both products include the maximum strength lidocaine available without a prescription along with Benzyl Alcohol which works quickly to desensitize aggravated nerves. While my experience is positive, results may vary.

I have been using Salonpas products for some time and believe that they make high quality products at prices that most everyone can afford.

  1. What is the advantage of lidocaine for pain management?

Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that can be used on the skin to treat aggravated nerve pain. Lidocaine patches are often prescribed for relief of pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia which is a painful complication that occurs after a bout of shingles.  The lidocaine penetrates into the skin to reach the nerves and helps block the pain transmission to your brain.

However, many doctors prescribe off-label uses for lidocaine patches including aggravated nerve pain in the back, neck, shoulders, knees and elbows.  The Salonpas® Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Cream, Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Liquid and Pain Relieving Patch all have 4% of lidocaine which I’d argue is close to the 5% lidocaine patch you would get with a prescription.

For patients that currently use a 5% Lidocaine Patch, I would suggest that they talk to their physician about trying the Salonpas® lidocaine products.

  1. Why should someone use Salonpas 4% Lidocaine versus the other OTC 4% Lidocaine products available?

Salonpas® is made by Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical Company in Japan.  When they originally set out to make a Lidocaine patch, they developed a patent to help stop the crystallization of the Lidocaine to improve drug delivery.

Salonpas® followed the same principles used for the Rx (5% Lidocaine) version, making it the same size and using the same hydrogel technology as its Rx cousin.  The only change they made was to improve the price so as to make the product more accessible to the general public.

  1. How does the price of the Salonpas® Lidocaine products compare with the prescription alternatives?

As many prescription Lidoderm® users are discovering, insurance companies are becoming less likely to cover this item for off-label uses.  This is because prescription Lidocaine was originally designed as an orphan drug for post herpetic neuralgia – the pain that can flare up after a bout of shingles.  Therefore, the insurance companies will only reimburse for that narrow indication so less and less people are able to get prescription Lidoderm® patches paid for by their insurance companies.

Salonpas® Lidocaine will cost you about $12.00 for a box of 6 patches, or about $60.00 for 30 patches.  Salonpas® Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Liquid and Salonpas® Lidocaine Plus Pain Relieving Cream retails at about $13 each. The fact that Salonpas products are all available over-the-counter make them a great option for pain relief.

It’s kind of refreshing to hear of a pharmaceutical company looking to save you money with all the bad press that has happened recently. While there is a difference in the level of active Lidocaine, 4% in Salonpas versus 5% in prescription, it’s certainly worth consulting with your physician and giving it a try.

  1. Where are Salonpas® Lidocaine products available?

Salonpas® is available at all major national drug, food and mass merchandise stores nationwide, including but not limited to:  Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid and many others.

  1. What is the market size of the nonprescription pain relief marketplace?

In the United States, the nonprescription pain relief marketplace exceeds $2 billion per year for oral and topical dosage forms including tablets, capsules, ointments, gels, creams and patches.

  1. How big is Salonpas?

In 2017, Hisamitsu Pharmaceutical, the manufacturers of Salonpas, celebrated its 170th year in business. Salonpas is the world’s #1 OTC topical analgesics patch brand according to Euromonitor International.  They are the #1 pain patch brand in the USA and #2 topical pain relieving brand in the USA overall.


Dr. Arnot is a paid spokesperson for Hisamitsu America.