Review on June 08, 2009
The ingredient that gives hot sauce its kick, capsaicin, is now being tested for joint pain relief. To test its pain relieving properties, researchers have injected capsaicin into knee joints. Studies find this ingredient aids in temporary relief of joint pain.
Capsaicin is the active component found in chili peppers. The ingredient that causes the burning sensation on the tongues of hot sauce connoisseurs is the same ingredient that was tested for joint pain, in hopes that the burning sensation would occur in other parts of body tissue it came in contact with.
Studies show that capsaicin flips on nerve-ending receptors that sense both pain and heat. When applied to an area of the body the capsaicin binds to nerve receptors responsible for pain. Calcium enters as the cell opens and the overwhelmed nerves shut down because of the burning sensation. This numbs the joint pain for a significant amount of time- several weeks to months.
Doctor Charles A. Birbara is one of the physicians testing the theory. He says this process to relieve joint pain is "targeted therapy" because capsaicin pinpoints the pain directly. There are few side effects to this new joint pain therapy besides the initial burning sensation when first injected.
The form of capsaicin is not yet FDA approved and doctors are still testing how long the pain is relieved. This is not a permanent cure, but a seemingly safe way to temporarily relieve joint pain. Menopausal women experiencing joint pain are encouraged to keep abreast of this information for availability. As always, patients should consult their regular doctors before officially seeking treatment for their joint pain.