I have admittedly not yet recommended cabbage leaf wraps (CLWs) to my patients. Perhaps this study will convince both you and me to casually suggest the option to our patients with knee OA.
Eighty patients with advanced knee OA were randomly assigned to 4 weeks of treatment with
- i) Daily CLWs (for at least 2h/day)
- ii) Topical pain gel (10 mg diclofenac/g, at least once daily), or
iii) Usual care (observed by an MD)
Conclusion 1: The CLWs was significantly more effective than usual care with respect to pain and functional scores at 4 and 12 weeks.
The CLWs was no different than the topical diclofenac gel as they both provided equal benefits.
Interestingly there were 2 patients who reported of adverse effects with the CLWs and 2 with the diclofenac gel, consisting of mild skin irritations.
Clinical application: Tell your next patient with knee OA that exercising is the best long-term strategy for managing their OA symptoms; however they may also consider a trial of either topical anti-inflammatory gels or cabbage leaf wraps. You can tell your patient, “There was a study published in the clinical journal of pain supporting the use of cabbage leaf wraps …it’s not as crazy as it sounds”
You may already know that I do not endorse the use of ice, but I do endorse the use of cabbage!
Reference: Lauche R1, et al Efficacy of Cabbage Leaf Wraps in the Treatment of Symptomatic Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Clin J Pain. 2016 Nov;32(11):961-971.