Osteoarthritis Remedies: Hot Mud, Salt Baths Relieve Symptoms

Two unique but relative solutions were explored by researchers from universities at Lithuania to treat osteoarthritis, a condition that affects 10 percent of men and 13 percent of women in the knees across the U.S. 

Movement is limited because it breaks down the cartilage tissue protecting the bones, specifically around all the joints in the body. The most telling symptoms are pain, sickness and inflammation. Conventional medication, exercise and physiotherapy do not provide relief within a short span of time.The other treatment options are weight loss, heat and cold therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and epsom salt baths. 

Adding to these wide range of medical solutions available, newer treatment methods have been devised to improve the quality of life of the elderly people. Peloid therapy, which consists of the application of mud or clay to relax muscles and tension around the problem areas, is one such therapy. 

It is, however, one part of balneotherapy, which is more immersive. Balneotherapy refers to a thousand-year-old treatment of bathing the whole body in mud or mineral water in a spa setting. The paper was published on September 6 in The International Journal of Biometeorology, which looked at the effects of the treatment on three groups. 

What The Study Said

As per Medical News Today, 92 participants were enrolled in the study, of whom 87 percent were female at an average age of 64.6. Three groups were formed from them. The first group was given regular physical therapy for half an hour, nearly every day for a whole month.

Osteoarthritis A woman walks along the boardwalk while leaving the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York in this September 4, 2007 file photo. Reuters/Lucas Jackson/Files

Simultaneously, they were also additionally treated with peloid therapy on the legs and waist region for 20 minutes. The mud was at a temperature of 36 to 42 degrees Celsius. 

The second group was given the same regular treatment for a month, except they were additionally given 15 minute long salt baths with the water’s temperature at 36 to 38 degrees Celsius. The last group was given no other alternative treatment other than regular physical therapy and they were used as the control group. 

At the beginning of the study, the participants were assessed on Kellgren-Lawrence (KL) grading system. They were scored between 1 and 5, with five being the highest on the scale to assess physical capability. One month later after the study had concluded, the researchers checked various parameters to make an assessment of their condition: range of motion in terms of walking, sitting down and standing up five times continuously. 

The first two groups that were treated with hot mud benefited more, the researchers found. The authors said that,"Anthropometric data significantly improved, pain intensity and joint stiffness decreased, [and] physical activity increased, compared to the control group."

They added, "After treatment and 1 month after treatment, average percentages of symptoms, stiffness, and pain of the intervention groups were significantly better than those of the control group."