Chiropractic Education Guides, Videos & Resources
Mechanism and Application of Biofreeze® Topical Analgesic
Biofreeze® topical analgesic reduces pain through “cryotherapy,” or cold application. It
has been well-established that cold reduces the sensation of pain and reduces inflammation.
(For a comprehensive text on cryotherapy, see Knight). “Cryokinetics” is a technique of using
cold application to reduce pain during exercise. This helps facilitate earlier exercise
interventions for healing tissue. Cooling and re-warming tissue with movement stimulates
reperfusion of healing tissue.
Alcohol, Menthol, Ilex (herbal supplement)
Biofreeze® topical analgesic has been shown to reduce skin temperature (Benkaci
2005), reduce blood flow (Hollis et al. 2007), and reduce pain (Gaiko et al. 2006).
Mechanism of Action
Two possible pain-relief mechanisms have been identified for Biofreeze® topical
1. Menthol Counter-irritant Effect: The counter-irritant theory suggests that menthol
stimulates cutaneous sensory receptors. This blocks pain signals from reaching the
brain via the “Gate Control” theory (Melzak & Wall 1965).
2. Cryotherapy through Evaporation: Evaporation of alcohol and menthol reduce skin
temperature, which stimulates thermosensitive cold receptors in the skin known as
“TRP-M8” receptors. These specific receptors have been shown to play a role in pain
control through the body’s glutamate (Proudfoot et al. 2006) or opioid system
(Galaeotti et al. 2002).
Biofreeze® topical analgesic is indicated for several applications:
1. Pain Self-Management. All-natural relief of musculoskeletal pain without drugs.
Particularly useful in arthritic conditions, headache, and low back pain.
2. Pre-Evaluation for Pain Reduction. Used as a pre-assessment to reduce
apprehension, muscle reactivity and pain.
3. Adjunct to Manual Therapies. Used for massage therapy, soft tissue mobilization,
and trigger point therapy.
4. Adjunct to Modalities. Applied before and after modality application such as
ultrasound or laser.
5. Cryokinetics. Used to minimize the negative effects of ice during cryokinetic exercise.
6. Kinesiotape® Protocols. Biofreeze® spray is used directly on the tape.
7. Thera-Band® Protocols. Applied before and after exercise to reduce pain and
Biofreeze® topical analgesic should be applied to affected area up to 4 times per day.
Avoid contact with mucous membranes or open wounds. Do not use with a heating pad.
Gaiko GV, Roy IV, Kalashnikov AV, Katukova LD, Chalajduk TP. Report of clinical study of
effectiveness and tolerance of Biofreeze gel in patients with osteocondrosis of the lumbosacral
segment. Unpublished manuscript. Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedics.Kiev, Ukraine.
Galeotti N, Di Cesare Mannelli L, Mazzanti G, Bartolini A, Ghelardini C. Menthol: a natural
analgesic compound. Neurosci Lett. 2002 Apr 12;322(3):145-8.
Melzack R, Wall PD. Pain mechanisms: a new theory.Science. 1965 Nov 19;150(699):971-9
Proudfoot CJ, Garry EM, Cottrell DF, Rosie R, Anderson H, Robertson DC, Fleetwood-Walker
SM, Mitchell R. Analgesia mediated by the TRPM8 cold receptor in chronic neuropathic pain.
Curr Biol. 2006 Aug 22;16(16):1591-605.
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