Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Icy Hot mystery

As I've blogged about before, I absolutely adore Icy Hot for muscle stiffness, but I've noticed something odd.  When I apply Icy Hot to a joint, it makes the adjacent joint a wee bit stiffer.

For example, when I apply it to my shoulder, it makes my elbow a bit stiffer, in that I feel a little something in the elbow and I feel the need to crack it more.  (And when I do crack it, it's louder).   When I apply it to my knee, my snapping hip syndrome gets louder and I become aware of an old injury in the metatarsal area.

If it makes a difference, I have observed this when using the Icy Hot cream, as opposed to the patches.  I haven't used the patches since I discovered the cream, so I can't tell you whether or not it also happens when I use the patches.

This atteinte of the adjacent joints is nearly negligible compared with the relief that Icy Hot brings me, but it's still very mysterious.  Any thoughts?


laura k said...

I wonder what's going on. Is it leaching something out of one joint, and that substance is migrating to the other joint?

I've never tried Icy Hot. Do you know what's in it, or is it one of those proprietary things without an ingredient list?

I also have noisy elbows, hips, knees, etc. I want to try it just to see if I get the same effect.

impudent strumpet said...

The tube of Icy Hot Extra Strength says that the medicinal ingredients are Methyl Salicylate 30% and Menthol 10%. It doesn't say what the nonmedicinal ingredients are. I haven't looked into what these things actually do - I'm still on the "blog about it and see if people hand me answers" portion of my research.

laura k said...

The body metabolizes methyl salicylate like salicylic acid (aspirin). Menthol has some unknown property that some people think is a mild painkiller. It's like topical aspirin, plus menthol, same as Bengay.

I've only ever used Bengay once. My skin freaked out and I felt like I was on fire. Very unpleasant.

But more to your point... I have no idea why it would make a nearby joint hurt more. I'd be interested to know, though.

laura k said...

Wait a sec, maybe I do have an idea. According to our friends at Wikipedia, some people believe methyl salicylate works by counter-irritation.

Methyl salicylate

Counter irritatant

"A counterirritant is a substance which creates inflammation in one location with the goal of lessening the inflammation in another location"

This is what you're describing.

laura k said...

* irritant

impudent strumpet said...

Whoa, that's totally it! Thank you!

I had no idea that counterirritation was even a thing.

laura k said...

Wikipedia to the rescue.