1.) They do seem to work, at least a little. The patches stick on well, and stay stuck on admirably. The active ingredients are Menthol and Capsaicin. Capsaicin is the stuff in hot peppers that makes them hot, and is the primary ingredient in pepper spray, the MACE alternative. It's also a nifty topical analgesic (think aspirin). The menthol is there to dull the pain and apparently smell good. If you like menthol. Apparently koalas love it. There are six outside my bedroom window now trying to claw their way in.
2.) I currently have three patches happening: one on my forearm, one on the outer part of my shoulder, and one on my back by the shoulderblade. These are the places that hurt the most, and it seems logical that I should apply the patches there. Getting the one on my back was a bit of an experience in gymnastics, but I managed to get it placed pretty well.
3.) It takes a bit of time for the pain relief to start working, but they last pretty well. The one on my forearm isn't enough to kill the entire ache, but it does help knock it down. The other two are doing really well.
4.) Apparently having three patches on simultaneously (and one close to the neck) futzes with the nightmare section of my brain, because I just woke up from a doozy. Full-on panic. I think it was about the power going out because I hadn't paid the electric bill or something, then discovering that it was really because someone had cut the power... right before they killed me. It took me a few minutes to realize that I wasn't actually dead, which sounds really stupid right now, but in that half-awake dream state, it was a legitimate thought.
So I'm awake with a serious adrenaline surge, sweating like a mofo (and this is the great African mofo, not one of those pansy European ones), and deciding to take some time to calm down before going back to bed. Like maybe a week. Seriously, I haven't had a nightmare that terrifying since I was a child.