Background: Heat therapy is one of the most popular non-pharmacological treatments for osteoarthritis of the hand.
Objectives: To investigate the therapeutic and chemical effects of Hévíz mud on patients with hand osteoarthritis.
Methods: We randomly assigned 47 patients with mild-to-moderate hand osteoarthritis to two groups. Patients in group 1 (n=23) received Hévíz mud applied directly to both hands, whereas patients in group 2 (n=24) also received mud to both hands, but nylon gloves separated the skin from the mud. Patients in both groups underwent five 20 minute treatment sessions per week for 3 weeks. The temperature of the mud was 42°C. Outcome measures were Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) scores, hand grip strength, the number of swollen and tender joints of the hand, the duration of morning joint stiffness, Health Assessment Questionnaire score, and EuroQoL Group 5-Dimension Self-Report Questionnaire score. The study parameters were evaluated at baseline, immediately after treatment, and after 16 weeks.
Results: Both groups showed improvement in nearly all assessed parameters at the end of treatment and at 16 weeks from the start of treatment. At the week 16 follow-up visit, the patient group directly treated with mud showed significantly better improvement in VAS for II and IV parameters and in swollen joint count in both hands compared to the nylon glove-mud group.
Conclusions: Hévíz mud therapy significantly improved objective and subjective parameters in patients with hand osteoarthritis and had a beneficial effect on the patients' quality of life. Further studies are required to evaluate the chemical effects of the mud.