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J Athl Train. 2013 Mar-Apr;48(2):220-5. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.19. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Topical menthol, ice, peripheral blood flow, and perceived discomfort.

Author information

1
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, USA. robert.topp@marquette.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Injury management commonly includes decreasing arterial blood flow to the affected site in an attempt to reduce microvascular blood flow and edema and limit the induction of inflammation. Applied separately, ice and menthol gel decrease arterial blood flow, but the combined effects of ice and menthol gel on arterial blood flow are unknown.

OBJECTIVES:

To compare radial artery blood flow, arterial diameter, and perceived discomfort before and after the application of 1 of 4 treatment conditions.

DESIGN:

Experimental crossover design.

SETTING:

Clinical laboratory. PARTICIPANTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Ten healthy men, 9 healthy women (mean age = 25.68 years, mean height = 1.73 m, mean weight = 76.73 kg).

INTERVENTION(S):

Four treatment conditions were randomly applied for 20 minutes to the right forearm of participants on 4 different days separated by at least 24 hours: (1) 3.5 mL menthol gel, (2) 0.5 kg of crushed ice, (3) 3.5 mL of menthol gel and 0.5 kg of crushed ice, or (4) no treatment (control).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):

Using high-resolution ultrasound, we measured right radial artery diameter (cm) and blood flow (mL/min) every 5 minutes for 20 minutes after the treatment was applied. Discomfort with the treatment was documented using a 1-to-10 intensity scale.

RESULTS:

Radial artery blood flow decreased (P < .05) from baseline in the ice (-20% to -24%), menthol (-17% to -24%), and ice and menthol (-36% to -39%) treatments but not in the control (3% to 9%) at 5, 10, and 15 minutes. At 20 minutes after baseline, only the ice (-27%) and combined ice and menthol (-38%) treatments exhibited reductions in blood flow (P < .05). Discomfort was less with menthol than with the ice treatment at 5, 10, and 20 minutes after application (P < .05). Arterial diameter and heart rate did not change.

CONCLUSIONS:

The application of 3.5 mL of menthol was similar to the application of 0.5 kg of crushed ice in reducing peripheral blood flood. Combining crushed ice with menthol appeared to have an additive effect on reducing blood flow.

PMID:
23672386
PMCID:
PMC3600924
DOI:
10.4085/1062-6050-48.1.19
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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