The effect of either topical menthol or a placebo on functioning and knee pain among patients with knee OA.
Pain secondary to knee osteoarthritis is a common problem in older adults. Many pharmaceutical and other therapeutic strategies are used to alleviate pain and improve function in this population. To determine the effects of commonly used menthol gels to alleviate pain for older adults with knee osteoarthritis, a group of 20 subjects underwent functional testing after application of menthol gel, and then after application of an inert placebo. Subjects also reported their pain level after each functional test.
Performance on the 6-Minute Walk Test, 30-second timed chair stand, Up and Down stairs functional tasks showed significant improvement after menthol gel application, along with a decreased report of pain during the Timed Up and Go, 30-second timed chair stand, and Up and Down stair tests. Placebo treatment only an improvement on the Down stair test performance and no significant change in pain. Overall the authors felt that there was a significant positive impact on functional performance and reduction in pain as a result of using the menthol gel vs. placebo.
The main limitation of this study noted was the lack of a scented placebo, subjects could have known they were recieving the menthol treatment because of the distinct smell. > From: Topp et al., J Geriatr Phys Ther, 36(2013) 92-99. All rights reserved to The Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association.
The Pubmed summary of the article can be found here.