Objective: To examine the effect of a topical cream consisting of cetylated fatty acids on functional performance in patients diagnosed with osteoarthritis (OA) of one or both knees.
Methods: Forty patients diagnosed with knee OA were randomly assigned to one of 2 topical treatment groups: (1) cetylated fatty acid (CFA) (n = 20; age 62.7 +/- 11.7 yrs); or (2) placebo group (n = 20; age 64.6 +/- 10.5 yrs). Patients were tested on 3 occasions: (1) baseline (T1), (2) 30 min after initial treatment (T2), and (3) after 30-day treatment of cream application twice per day (T3). Assessments included knee range of motion (ROM), timed "up-and-go" from a chair and stair climbing, medial step-down test, and the unilateral anterior reach.
Results: For stair climbing ability and the up-and-go test, significant decreases in time were observed at T2 and T3 compared to T1 in the CFA group only. These differences were significant between groups. Supine ROM of the knees increased at T2 and T3 in CFA group, whereas no difference was observed in the placebo group. For the medial step-down test, significant improvement was observed at T2 and T3 compared to T1 in CFA group. For the unilateral anterior reach, significant improvement was observed for both legs in CFA group and in only the left leg in the placebo group. However, the improvements observed in CFA group were significantly greater than placebo group for both legs.
Conclusion: Use of a CFA topical cream is an effective treatment for improving knee ROM, ability to ascend/descend stairs, ability to rise from sitting, walk and sit down, and unilateral balance.