Effects of topical analgesics on the pressor response evoked by muscle afferents

Ronaldo M. Ichiyama, Brian G. Ragan, Gerald W. Bell, Gary A. Iwamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: Pressor responses are reflexly evoked by the activation of groups III and IV muscle afferents, which are also known to mediate nociceptive responses. In this experiment, the effects of analgesic balm (AB) application on these responses were investigated without the interference of other types of anesthesia or effects from the higher brain. Methods: Heart rate (HR), blood pressure, and end-tidal CO2 were monitored in midcollicularly decerebrated cats. Static contractions (30 s) of hindlimb muscles were evoked by electric stimulation of L7 and S1 ventral roots. After control runs, a commercial AB (1% capsaicin, 12.5% methyl salicylate) was applied to the skin surface over the contracting muscles. Muscle contractions were evoked every 10 min, alternating between the two hindlimbs. Results: Changes in mean arterial pressure (MAP) evoked by static ipsilateral muscular contraction were significantly attenuated 20 min and 40 min after AB application. The decreases in the pressor response were significant at both the initial and the last parts of the stimulus intervention after 20 min of AB application. There were no significant changes in the response to contraction of the hindlimb contralateral to the AB application. Application of AB to the contralateral leg did not add to the ipsilateral effects. Conclusions: AB application to the skin surface over contracting muscles significantly decreased autonomic responses to static muscular contraction. This effect was independent of higher cortical processing and strongly suggests that application of methyl salicylate and capsaicin on the skin has analgesic effects on signals from receptors located in muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1440-1445
Number of pages6
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Blood pressure
  • Capsaicin
  • Cats
  • Heart rate
  • Methyl salicylate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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