Objectives: To assess the efficacy of an aromatic essential oil (1% Zingiber officinale and 0.5% Citrus sinesis) massage among the elderly with moderate-to-severe knee pain.
Method: Fifty-nine older persons were enrolled in a double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental study group from the Community Centre for Senior Citizens, Hong Kong. The intervention was six massage sessions with ginger and orange oil over a 3-week period. The placebo control group received the same massage intervention with olive oil only and the control group received no massage. Assessment was done at baseline, post 1-week and post 4 weeks after treatment. Changes from baseline to the end of treatment were assessed on knee pain intensity, stiffness level and physical functioning (by Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis index) and quality of life (by SF-36).
Results: There were significant mean changes between the three time-points within the intervention group on three of the outcome measures: knee pain intensity (p=0.02); stiffness level (p=0.03); and enhancing physical function (p=0.04) but these were not apparent with the between-groups comparison (p=0.48, 0.14 and 0.45 respectively) 4 weeks after the massage. The improvement of physical function and pain were superior in the intervention group compared with both the placebo and the control group at post 1-week time (both p=0.03) but not sustained at post 4 weeks (p=0.45 and 0.29). The changes in quality of life were not statistically significant for all three groups.
Conclusion: The aroma-massage therapy seems to have potential as an alternative method for short-term knee pain relief.