Osteoarthritis research: hot mud and salt baths

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Could hot mud treatments and sodium chloride mineral baths relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis? A small scale pilot study, although limited in scope, concludes that they are worth further investigation.
In the United States, knee OA affects 10% of men and 13% of women aged 60 or older; this makes OA the most common joint disorder in the U.S.
Currently, doctors recommend combination therapy, which includes pain medication and non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as physiotherapy.
The aim is to relieve pain, slow the progress of OA, and help people compensate for any loss of movement.
Because OA is so prevalent and there is still no cure, scientists are keen to find cost effective, drug free ways of relieving symptoms.
Recently, a group of researchers in Lithuania decided to investigate two less well known interventions: peloid therapy and balneotherapy. They published their findings in the International Journal of Biometeorology.
Peloid therapy is the use of clay or mud to treat ailments. Balneotherapy is a traditional treatment that involves immersing the body in mineral water or mud that is rich in minerals.
For their study, the researchers recruited 92 participants with an average age of 64.6 years, and females represented 87% of the group. All individuals had grade 1–3 knee joint OA according to the Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grading system.
All three groups received standard physical therapy, which involved 30-minute sessions, carried out every other day for 1 month.
A recent study concludes that glucosamine may lower the risk of cardiovascular issues.
Alongside physical therapy, group 1 received peat mud applications on the waist and leg areas. The temperature of the mud was 36–42°C (97–108°F). The procedures lasted 20 minutes, and they took place every other day for the monthlong treatment period.
Group 2 received physical therapy plus 15-minute sodium chloride (salt) bath treatments. The temperature of the water was 36–38°C (97–100°F). Group 3 participants acted as controls; they only received physical therapy. The researchers assessed a range of physical measures at the beginning and end of the study and 1 month after the interventions had ended.
These anthropometric measures included walking speed, range of motion, and how quickly the participants could sit down and stand up five times. Immediately after the intervention and 1 month later, the authors found that groups 1 and 2 fared significantly better, across almost all of the physical measures.

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