Painful knees, most commonly due to osteoarthritis, are one of the most frequent complaints among older adults. Besides discomforts it causes, knee pain significantly affects their balance and mobility, often forcing them to reduce their activities to a minimum.
Curcumin, an active compound found in turmeric, has previously been found to relieve knee pain when taken orally.1 The effectiveness of its topical applications has not been studied extensively.
As such, this study aimed to explore the effects of curcumin ointment on knee pain in older adults with osteoarthritis.
In this double-blind, randomized placebo trial, 72 older adults with knee pain due to osteoarthritis were divided into two groups.
The intervention group applied a 5% curcumin ointment (95 g of Vaseline with 5 g of dried curcumin extract 90% powder), while the control group was given Vaseline ointment to apply. Applications were done with 1.5 mL of the ointment twice daily for six weeks.
The severity of knee pain was measured using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS) at the beginning of the study as well as at the 4- and 6-week check-ups.
The results of this clinical trial were published in the 2020 edition of the BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies journal.
After six weeks, the average severity of knee pain was significantly lower in the curcumin group (27.5 in the VAS) relative to the Vaseline group (39.2 in the VAS).
Interestingly, the Vaseline group also showed slight pain reductions, but only in the first four weeks of the study.
There were no adverse effects reported by participants in either of the groups.
What Does this Mean?
As evident in the results of this study, a 5% curcumin ointment can effectively reduce knee pain in older adults suffering from knee osteoarthritis.
These findings validate topical use of curcumin ointment as an alternative treatment for osteoarthritic knee pain. The hope is that this natural solution may allow them to restore or maintain their balance and mobility for years to come.
- BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies, The effect of curcumin ointment on knee pain in older adults with osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo trial, 2020
- Inflammopharmacology. (2013). Safety and efficacy of Curcuma longa extract in the treatment of painful knee osteoarthritis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Retrieved October 21, 2020 from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23242572/