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This Patent Application received a non-final rejection by the US Patent Office! An initial rejection is part of the typical course of a patent application.

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WHY IT MATTERS - This application attempts to patent the method of applying cold analgesics, that are cold by virtue of being stored in a cold place, to a sore muscle. 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.

TITLE: Method and Composition for Treating Pain

  • App Number: 13/235947
  • Publication Number: US 20130072575 A1
  • Assignee: Johnson & Johnson, Inc.
  • Prior Art Cutoff Date: Prior Art predating Sept 19, 2011
  • Availability for Challenge: Open Until at least Sept 21, 2013

Summary: This application relates to the method of treating pain by applying any cold analgesic. The main independent claim, if allowed, would cover the method of treating pain in a person by applying a cooled, unspecified analgesic to the region of pain. It requires the substance to have been placed in a cold place.

Claim 1 requires:

  1. A method of treating pain by topical application of an analgesic composition to the skin of a patient comprising:

    • placing an analgesic composition in an environment with a temperature of less than 10° Centigrade,

    • keeping said analgesic composition in said environment for a period of time sufficient to reduce the temperature of said composition

    • removing said composition from said environment, and

    • applying said composition topically to the region of pain.

QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 09/19/2011 that discusses (1) cooling an analgesic; (2) applying the cooled analgesic to region of pain; (3) cooled analgesics in gel, soft solid, liquid, cream, ointment or aerosol form (taken from claim 5)

If so, please submit evidence of that prior art as an answer below. Please submit only one piece of prior art per answer below. We welcome multiple prior art proposals from the same individual; please create separate answers for each one. This is so the community can vet each individual piece of prior art independently.

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11 Answers 11


Here's a reference to a paper published in 1975 studying the effects of ice massage on localized skin, specifically titled "The cooling, analgesic, and rewarming effects of ice massage on localized skin":


Does it matter if the analgesic in question would or would not still be an analgesic if it were not cold?

Gel ice packs for treating sports injuries have been around a very long time (see eg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_compression_therapy which includes some references dated back to 1998).

  • Ice has been around even longer, dating back to at least the early 90's :-).
    – Ralph
    Jul 23, 2013 at 12:07

An analgesic is anything that is used to relieve pain. Ice has been used to treat pain for at least since the 1800s. In other words, ice is an analgesic, which is cold, and it is applied to treat pain. It meets all the criteria for this patent. There have been many, many studies on the effects of ice as an analgesic. Here are just a few of them:

Bugaj R. The cooling, analgesic, and rewarming effects of ice massage on localized skin. Phys Ther. 1975 Jan;55(1):11-9.

Barnard D. The effects of extreme cold on sensory nerves. Ann R Coll Surg Engl 1980 May; 62(3):180-7.

Bini G, Cruccu G, Hagbarth KE, Schady W, Torebjork E. Analgesic effect of vibration and cooling on pain induced by intraneural electrical stimulation. Pain 1984 Mar; 18(3): 239-48.

Ernst E, Fialka V. Ice freezes pain? A review of the clinical effectiveness of analgesic cold therapy. J Pain Symptom Manage 1994 Jan ; 9(1) : 56-9.

Bleakley C, McDonough S, MacAuley D. The Use of Ice in the Treatment of Acute Soft-Tissue Injury. A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 2004, Volume 32, Pages 251-261.


This article published Jun 15th 2011 specifically mentions cooling analgesics before application for massage therapy. http://blog.1massagestore.com/2011/06/15/topical-analgesics-biofreeze/


This pharmacology text has a section on analgesic drugs and there is specifically a section on "TRP channels--thermal sensation and pain" that may apply in this case.

Rang and Dale's Pharmacology, H P Rang, M M Dale, J M Ritter, R J Flower, and G Henderson Chapter 41 "Analgesic drugs", pages 503-524.

This text is currently in it's seventh edition and the section on temperature quotes the following work from 2007 on the use of cool sensation and low temperature sensitive nerve cells for pain reduction.

Fleetwood-Walker et al, 2007. Fleetwood-Walker S.M., Proudfoot C.W.J., Garry E.M.,et al: Cold comfort pharm. Trends Pharmacol. Sci. 2007; 28: 621-628



Deep Relief is a topical analgesic.

On the Deep Relief web site http://www.deeprelief.ca/en/pages/painFAQs.html it says 'For best results and an extra cold sensation, store Deep Relief Ice Cold Pain Relief Gel in the refrigerator.'

A quick check on Archive.org shows this was there on 7 January 2011 http://web.archive.org/web/20110107003222/http://www.deeprelief.ca/en/pages/painFAQs.html


I think one should focus on:

•placing an analgesic composition in an environment with a temperature of less than 10° Centigrade,

•keeping said analgesic composition in said environment for a period of time sufficient to reduce the temperature of said composition

Every time a user of ointment has left their analgesic in a room, car, or had the analgesic during a winter's hike in their backpack has performed the full method upon using the analgesic in said room, car or other environment.

Also note the word 'reducing'in the second sentence. This means that putting a 30C tube of analgesic for 10 seconds in a room of 9.9C, thus cooling the tube of analgesic by for instance 1 nanoKelvin has performed the first part of the method. This opens other routes of attack against the extremely broad scope of the patent.

Finally, this claim has way too broad scope but that was intended. Look at the first dependent claims too as those are fallbacks and will be narrower in scope. From reading the patent one can discern what the applicant(s) most likely wanted to protect. The extremely broad claim is just a tactic to protect as much as possible in case the examiner is sleeping or does not have enough time to thoroughly read the patent.


This link provides detail on a product matching this description that was marketed in March of 2011.


  • I do not see where this talks about making it cold by storing it in a cold place.
    – George White
    Aug 4, 2013 at 22:35

When I used to play football, the jars of Icy Hot were stored in a little mini-fridge. Which at some point I believe the people at Chattem Labs figured out and they of course created something called "Icy Hot Chill Stick" some time later. I believe the chill stick specific product has been around since at least 2009:


INDICATIONS:For the temporary relief of minor arthritis pain, muscle pain and other everyday pain.

INGREDIENTS:Active Ingredients:Per container: Methyl Salicylate (30), Methol (10 )Inactive Ingredients:Ceresin, Cyclomethicone, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Microcrystalline Wax, Paraffin, PEG-150 Distearate, Propylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol

DIRECTIONS:For enhanced pain relief at home, store in a refrigerator. Rub ICY HOT Chill Stick firmly, in a circular motion, over painful joints and muscles. Repeat as necessary.


I'd like to offer the combination of two British sources as prior art, if that is helpful.

First is the "Reader's Digest Family Health Guide", first edition, published London 1972, p.566 (part of the First Aid Emergencies section):

Burns and scalds - What to do

1: Relieve the pain and minimise the possibility of shock by holding the burnt area in cool, slowly running water.

This is accompanied by a clear illustration captioned "Hold a burn under running cold water." A very clear and concise description, in plain language (rather than the medical jargon of "topically" and "analgesic"), of the essence of the method described in the patent.

One detail remains - what temperature is typical for tap water in Britain? Mains water spends a lot of time underground, so we can assume that it adopts roughly the same temperature as the surrounding earth.

A quick Google gives me this: "...the ground temperature shows seasonal fluctuations to depths of about 15 m where the temperature is approximately equal to the mean annual air temperature(8 - 11° C in the UK)." Therefore, at least some of the time, tap water used for first-aid will have been chilled by earth below 10°C before use.

Another page in the same book, p.209 which is part of the glossary, has a short paragraph under the entry for Analgesic:

Apart from drugs, there are simple treatments that can have an analgesic effect. A hot-water bottle, an electric blanket or a warm bath is useful for relieving muscular aches. An ice bag or cold compress may relieve the discomfort of a bruise or sprain.


I'd like to make the somewhat absurd proposition that a bottle of beer actually perfectly perfectly fits the description of the patent.

It's obviously been known for a long time than ethanol acts as an analgesic (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3362554 ...) and that storing beer in a fridge is considered a good idea got to be documented somewhere publicly as well even if it's not considered obvious.

  • Good so far, but the patent involves then applying said analgesic to the affected skin, rather than drinking it. It may have been done, but it would be somewhat harder to find documentation about.
    – Chromatix
    Jul 24, 2013 at 9:28
  • Applying the cold bottle itself, perhaps. Similar to the old ways of applying a cold steak to a black eye.
    – Ron J.
    Jul 24, 2013 at 12:15

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