A  new gel to tackle crippling arthritis pain is set to bring relief to Britain's nine million sufferers, new research shows.

Flexiseq, which is simply rubbed into the joints twice daily, can ease the agony of those afflicted by the debilitating disease. It goes on sale across the UK this month.

And because it’s drug-free, research shows the gel has no dangerous side effects such as heart problems, strokes or stomach complaints that conventional drug-based painkillers can cause.

Results from six separate clinical studies involving 4,000 patients found that it helps mobility and eases pain in osteoarthritis sufferers.

One study of 1,300 patients found Flexiseq creates a natural lubricant for affected joints and is as good for pain relief as commonly prescribed NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Dr John Dickson, a co-founder of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, worked on the study. He said : “It is well recognised that effectively managing chronic pain, particularly in patients with other conditions and risk factors, is a massive challenge that GPs and patients face on a daily basis. I am delighted that Flexiseq is being launched in the UK. This topical treatment is drug-free and seems to have an excellent safety profile.”

Prof Philip G Conaghan, of the University of Leeds, who led the research, said yesterday: “The need for new treatment options is well recognised as existing treatments don’t always work and many can cause serious side effects. Many OA patients are elderly and have additional health conditions that mean they are especially at risk of these side effects. Safety is therefore a key concern for new therapies and patients and healthcare professionals would welcome new treatment options which are effective and without such safety concerns.”

There have been over six million safe applications of Flexiseq in Germany, Ireland, Austria, Malaysia and Singapore.

Reports from clinical studies published in respected medical journals in the past year showed favourable results.

The leading study was published in Rheumatology — the British Society of Rheumatology’s official journal.

A US study appeared in the Journal of Rheumatology in September, again with favourable results. Further clinical studies produced similar results for the award-winning gel. And last month the respected Current Medical Research & Opinion journal, referred to the six trials and concluded that Flexiseq had a “pronounced effect” on patients.