Low back pain (LBP) is chronic disease without a curative therapy. Alternative and complementary therapies are widely used in the management of this condition.
To evaluate the efficacy of home application of Dead Sea mud compresses to the back of patients with chronic LBP.
Forty-six consecutive patients suffering from chronic LBP were recruited. All patients were followed at the Soroka University Rheumatic Diseases Unit. The patients were randomized into two groups: one group was treated with mineral-rich mud compresses, and the other with mineral-depleted compresses. Mud compresses were applied five times a week for 3 consecutive weeks. The primary outcome was the patient's assessment of the overall back pain severity. The score of the Ronald & Morris questionnaire served as a secondary outcome.
Forty-four patients completed the therapy and the follow-up assessments: 32 were treated with real mud packs and 12 used the mineral-depleted packs. A significant decrease in intensity of pain, as described by the patients, was observed only in the treatment group. In this group, clinical improvement was clearly seen at completion of therapy and was sustained a month later. Significant improvement in the scores of the Roland & Morris questionnaire was observed in both groups.
The data suggest that pain severity was reduced in patients treated with mineral-rich mud compresses compared with those treated with mineral-depleted compresses. Whether this modest effect is the result of a "true" mud effect or other causes can not be determined in this study.