You may have seen the commercials for a product called Activon. Does it really work?
You’ve probably seen the ads and the even more annoying commercials for a product called Activon. This is a product advertised as being effective for eliminating pain when applied directly to the skin. It’s available over-the-counter at most drugstores for under ten dollars; but the real question is this. Does Activon work for pain relief?
What’s in Activon topical?
The two active ingredients in this product are listed as histamine dihydrochloride and menthol. These ingredients both have a similar effect when applied to the skin. They act as irritants which causes a sensation of warmth or cold to help mask the underlying pain. Histamine dihydrochloride also causes some dilatation of the vessels where it’s applied, allowing more blood to reach the painful region. Although the increase in blood flow produced by the histamine dihydrochloride may have help to reduce some of the inflammation by bringing more nutrients to the painful area, Activon topical works primarily by masking the underlying pain.
What type of pain is Activon topical recommended for?
The company suggests that Acitivon works in the treatment of both muscle pain and the joint pain associated with arthritis. A slightly different formulation is used is used to treat back pain, although each formulation works by a similar mechanism. The company suggests that Activon topical be applied directly to the painful area.
Does it do its job?
Activon topical is very similar to other topical pain relievers on the market such as Icy Hot and ArthriCare. Although these formulations provide mild, temporary pain relief, in most cases the pain reduction isn’t dramatic and the effect is short-lived. This is particularly true of painful joints associated with arthritis. Joints are not located close to the surface of the skin and cause much deeper pain which is unlikely to be satisfactorily relieved by a topical medication.
Does it offer advantages over other pain medications and products?
Activon topical does have some advantages. Because it’s applied to the skin and not taken internally, the risk of side effects is lower. In addition, it appears to be a safe product, although the company doesn’t recommend using it children under twelve or women who are pregnant or breast feeding without consulting a doctor. Unlike many topical pain creams, it appears to be relatively odor free so people won’t smell you coming.
The bottom line? Activon topical may be useful for masking low grade forms of pain associated with muscle strain and, possibly, mild arthritic discomfort. Because of its limited ability to reach inflamed joints, it’s unlikely to diminish serious arthritis pain. It might best be used along with traditional pain medications to provide a little extra, short-term pain relief.