A new study carried out by Lithuanian researchers found that hot mud treatments and sodium chloride baths may relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It can affect most joints but is more common in those of the knees, hips and hands. Currently, doctors recommend combination therapy, which includes pain medication and non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as expensive physiotherapy. Scientists are keen to find cost effective, drug-free ways of relieving symptoms.
The researchers in Lithuania decided to investigate two interventions: peloid therapy and balneotherapy.
The researchers recruited 92 participants with an average age of 64 years. Females represented 87% of the group. All individuals suffered from osteoarthritis problems in different parts of their bodies.
All three groups received standard physical therapy. Group 1 and 2 received hot mud treatments or mineral water baths, while Group 3 acted as control.
Alongside physical therapy, Group 1 received peat mud applications on the waist and leg areas. The temperature of the mud was 36–42°C. The procedures lasted 20 minutes and they took place every other day for the month-long treatment period.
Group 2 received physical therapy, plus 15-minute sodium chloride (salt) bath treatments. The temperature of the water was 36–38°C. Group 3 only received physical therapy.
The researchers assessed a range of physical measures at the beginning of the study and one month after the interventions had ended. These measures included walking speed, range of motion and how quickly the participants could sit down and stand up.
Immediately after the intervention and one month later, the authors found that Groups 1 and 2 fared significantly better. Their Anthropometric data significantly improved, pain intensity and joint stiffness decreased and physical activity increased, compared to the control group.
The findings were published in the International Journal of Biometeorology and a report on the study was released Saturday by the Medical News Today website.
Although the study's findings were positive, lead author Lina Varzaityte said the results are preliminary and scientists will need to carry out longer studies.
"We need a longer study with more than 100 participants, and more diverse sample, because most of the current study participants were women," she told Medical News Today.