Adding Menthol to Arthritis Cream Improves Results

Study Claims Menthol, Fatty Acid Cream Reduces Pain, Improves Movement

From the WebMD Archives

April 21, 2004 -- Adding menthol to a commonly used arthritis cream eases pain and improves movement for several types of arthritis, a new study shows.

The arthritis cream contains a combination of animal fats called cetylated fatty acids. An earlier study showed that the cream helped relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis. A new study, performed at the University of Connecticut now shows that adding menthol to the product makes it work even better.

Imagenetix, who makes one such cream called Celadrin, helped fund the study.

In the previous study, reported in the April issue of the Journal of Rheumatology, University of Connecticut researcher William Kraemer, PhD, tested the arthritis cream Celadrin against placebo in 40 patients with knee osteoarthritis.

"The scientific findings were quite impressive and are very encouraging," Kraemer said in a news release. "These findings show that a topical cream can be a very effective and viable alternative [to treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs]. It is exceptionally impressive that 100% of the patients using Celadrin topical cream reported significant benefit when compared to the placebo group, with no reported side effects."

For the new study, Kraemer's team enrolled 28 patients: 10 with knee osteoarthritis, 10 with wrist osteoarthritis, and eight with elbow osteoarthritis. Each patient applied the arthritis cream to the affected area twice a day for a week. Participants underwent testing before and after treatment.

Makers of the arthritis cream don't claim it can cure arthritis -- and it didn't in the study -- but patients did fare better after treatment:

  • Patients with knee osteoarthritis had 12% improvement in stair-climbing ability and "up-and-go" performance -- their ability to rise from a chair and go. They had a 16.5% improvement in balance and strength, and a 3.5% improvement in range of motion.
  • Patients with elbow osteoarthritis had a 20% to 30% improvement in muscle endurance with the arthritis cream.
  • Patients with wrist osteoarthritis had a 25% to 40% improvement in muscle endurance.
  • All patients using the arthritis cream reported reduced pain.

The researchers reported the arthritis cream findings in Washington at this week's Experimental Biology 2004, an annual meeting of the American Physiological Society.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Ratamess, N.A. Proceedings, Experimental Biology 2004, Washington, April 17-21, 2004. Abstract 8533. News release, the American Physiological Society. News release, Imagenetix Inc. Kraemer, W.J. Journal of Rheumatology, April 2004; vol 31: pp: 767-774.
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