The effect of balneotherapy on pain relief, stiffness, and physical function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a meta-analysis

Authors: Matsumoto H (1) , Hagino H (1,2) , Hayashi K (3) , Ideno Y (4) , Wada T (1) , Ogata T (5) , Akai M (6) , Seichi A (7) , Iwaya T (8)
(1) Rehabilitation Division, Tottori University Hospital (2) Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Science, Tottori University (3) Faculty of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Gunma University (4) Gunma University Initiative for Advanced Research (5) Center for Sport Science and Health Promotion, Department of Rehabilitation for the Movement Functions, National Rehabilitation Center for Persons with Disabilities (6) Graduate School International University of Health and Welfare (7) Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Mitsui Memorial Hospital (8) Nagano University of Health & Medicine
Source: Clin Rheumatol. 2017 Aug;36(8):1839-1847
DOI: 10.1007/s10067-017-3592-y Publication date: 2017 Aug E-Publication date: March 16, 2017 Availability: abstract Copyright: © International League of Associations for Rheumatology (ILAR) 2017
Language: English Countries: Not specified Location: Not specified Correspondence address:


Article abstract

This meta-analysis was performed to determine the effect of balneotherapy on relieving pain and stiffness and improving physical function, compared to controls, among patients with knee osteoarthritis. We searched electronic databases for eligible studies published from 2004 to December 31, 2016, with language restrictions of English or Japanese. We screened publications in Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, and the Japan Medical Abstracts Society Database using two approaches, MeSH terms and free words. Studies that examined the effect of balneotherapy for treating knee osteoarthritis of a ≥2-week duration were included. Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) scores were used as the outcome measure. A total of 102 publications were assessed according to the exclusion criteria of the study; eight clinical trial studies, which comprised a total of 359 cases and 375 controls, were included in this meta-analysis. The meta-analysis analyzed improvement in WOMAC score at the final follow-up visit, which varied from 2 to 12 months post-intervention. Our meta-analysis indicates that balneotherapy was clinically effective in relieving pain and stiffness, and improving function, as assessed by WOMAC score, compared to controls. However, there was high heterogeneity (88 to 93%). It is possible that balneotherapy may reduce pain and stiffness, and improve function, in individuals with knee osteoarthritis, although the quality of current publications contributes to the heterogeneity observed in this meta-analysis.

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