Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones breaks down. This can cause the bones to rub against each other, which can be very painful.
It is medically proven that inflammation requires cold. but if not dealing with it on the initially stages, you need to apply moist heat that softens the movement and resolves the pain. Moist heat can either be in the form of hot, wet towels or heating pads that have been soaked in water.
On the other hand cold therapy or cooling can help in immediate reduction in pain. It can be done by using ice packs, frozen vegetables or ice wrapped in a towel. You can also take a cold bath or shower.
But how does menthol help with arthritis pain?
Menthol is an organic compound found in mint plants that has a cooling and numbing effect when applied to the skin, making it ideal for treating arthritis pain. Menthol works by cooling the skin and tissues below it, which can help to reduce inflammation and pain. It also has a mild numbing effect, which can help to further ease pain. Lets see how it works on the inside
Effect of cooling on tissues
The cooling effect of menthol is caused by the activation of cold-sensitive receptors in the skin. These receptors are called TRPM8 receptors. When Menthol binds to these receptors, it activates them and sends a signal to the brain that the area is cold. This causes the blood vessels in the area to constrict, which reduces inflammation and pain.
Numbing effect of menthol is caused by inhibition and activation of several enzymes in our body. Menthol works by inhibiting the action of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme is responsible for the production of pain-causing chemicals inside our systems. By inhibiting the action of COX, menthol reduces the production of pain inducing chemicals and therefore decreases pain. In other words this is we can say, it directly causes your pain receptors to go numb.
Menthol also has an analgesic effect, which means it can help to reduce pain. This is thought to be due to the activation of opioid receptors in the brain. Opioid receptors are involved in pain perception and pain relief. When activated, they can help to reduce the sensation of pain.
Menthol for Osteoathritis
In a study of people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who applied a menthol-containing gel to their knees three times a day for 12 weeks had less pain and stiffness than those who did not use the gel.
Arthritis on hands
Another study looked at the effect of a menthol-containing cream on people with arthritis of the hand. The participants applied the cream to their hands three times a day for 3 weeks. The study found that the cream helped to reduce pain and improve hand function.
Where to find menthol products
Menthol-containing creams are available over the counter and can be found in most pharmacies. It is available in many other forms, including gels, lotions, oils, and sprays. It can also be found in over-the-counter (OTC) products, such as pain relievers, muscle rubs, and topical analgesics.
Consult a doctor
If you are thinking of using menthol to treat your arthritis pain, it is important to consult a doctor first. This is because some people may be allergic to menthol or mint. If you are allergic to menthol, you should not use products that contain it. In addition, menthol should not be used on broken skin or open wounds. It is also important to talk to a doctor before using menthol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.