One-year follow-up of mud-bath therapy in patients with bilateral knee osteoarthritis: a randomized, single-blind controlled trial

Authors: Fioravanti A (1) , Bacaro G (2,3) , Giannitti C (1) , Tenti S (1) , Cheleschi S (1) , Guidelli GM (1) , Pascarelli NA (1) , Galeazzi M (1)
(1) Rheumatology Unit, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neurosciences, University of Siena (2) CNR-IRPI, Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica (3) BIOCONNET, Biodiversity and Conservation Network, Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena
Source: Int J Biometeorol. 2015 Sep;59(9):1333-43
DOI: 10.1007/s00484-014-0943-0 Publication date: 2015 Sep E-Publication date: Dec. 17, 2014 Availability: abstract Copyright: © ISB 2014
Language: English Countries: Italy Location: Chianciano Terme Correspondence address:


Article abstract

The objective of this prospective parallel randomized single-blind study was to assess that a cycle of mud-bath therapy (MBT) provides any benefits over usual treatment in patients with bilateral knee osteoarthritis (OA). Patients with symptomatic primary bilateral knee OA, according to ACR criteria, were included in the study and randomized to one of two groups: one group received a cycle of MBT at spa center of Chianciano Terme (Italy) in addition to the usual treatment, and one group continued their regular care routine alone. Clinical assessments were performed 7 days before enrollment (screening visit), at the time of enrollment (basal time), after 2 weeks, and after 3, 6, 9, and 12 months after the beginning of the study. All assessments were conducted by two researchers blinded to treatment allocation. The primary efficacy outcomes were the global pain score evaluated by Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) subscore for physical function (W-TPFS). Of the 235 patients screened, 103 met the inclusion criteria: 53 patients were included in the MBT group and 50 in the control group. In the group of patients treated with MBT, we observed a statistically significant (p < 0.001) reduction of VAS and W-TPFS score at the end of the treatment; this improvement was significant (p < 0.05) also at 3 months of follow-up. The control group did not show significant differences between baseline time and all other times. The differences between one group were significant for both primary parameters already from the 15th day and persisted up to the 9th month. This beneficial effect was confirmed by the significant reduction of symptomatic drug consumption. Tolerability of MBT seemed to be good, with light and transitory side effects. Our results confirm that a cycle of MBT added to usual treatment provides a beneficial effect on the painful symptoms and functional capacities in patients with knee OA that lasts over time. Mud-bath therapy can represent a useful backup to pharmacologic treatment of knee OA or a valid alternative for patients who do not tolerate pharmacological treatments.

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