Institut za fizikalnu medicinu, rehabilitaciju i reumatologiju „Dr Simo Milošević” Sava Ilića 1, 85347 Igalo Crna Gora
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic constantly deteriorating disease of unpredictable clinical course, with exacerbations, remissions and damaged joints. It leads to the loss of self-sufficiency, independence in performing many daily activities, decrease of working ability and invalidity. Beside physical factors, which are regarded as most responsible for the poorer quality of life of RA patients, psychological changes are also significant, such as the feeling of helplessness, hopelessness and depression. The goal of the treatment of patients with RA is to decrease illness symptoms, slow down the development of illness progression, improvement of physical functioning and provision of expert help to the RA patients to adapt to life.
The aim of the study was to assess the influence of spa therapy on the functional condition and life quality of RA patients.
The study involved 69 patients with RA (51 female and 18 male, on average aged 55.2 +/- 11.4 years, with illness duration 12.5 +/- 7.5 years), and were a part of a cohort from Norway, suffering of inflammatory rheumatism. All the patients came for four-week rehabilitation at the Institute for Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Rheumatology "Dr. Simo Milosević" in Igalo, Montenegro. The RA patients underwent treatment with mud compresses, mud, mineral and pearl baths, as well as with underwater shower massage (balneotherapy) kinesitherapy and certain forms of electrotherapy with analgesic effects. The evaluation was done on admission and after completed physical therapy when we assessed RA patients' functional condition and quality of life. The functional condition was determined using the Modified Health Assessment Questionnaire (MHAQ), and the quality of life using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36-item Questionnaire (SF-36), which encompassed eight life domains.
After completion of 28-dayspa therapy, RA patients showed a significant improvement in functional condition. Their quality of life was significantly improved in all dimensions of SF-36 Questionnaire (p < 0.01), and the functional status (MHAQ score) was also significantly better (p < 0.01).
Balneotherapy, together with climatic factors in Igalo, leads to a significant improvement of functional status and quality of life in patients suffering from RA.