Chronic venous disorders carry lifelong medical and social burdens. Within conservative approaches, spa hydrotherapy is popular among patients with venous disorders in Europe, but whether the practice is associated with health or social benefits remains controversial.
The present work is a substudy of the nation-wide Italian Naiade Project, a large multicenter observational exercise on spa treatments in different disease groups. The "Chronic Phlebopathies" substudy included 2504 patients with primary or secondary varicosis or non-varicose venous insufficiency. After a first visit and administration of a detailed questionnaire, patients underwent a "thermal cycle" of 15-20 days consisting of underwater active and passive physical therapy with mineral waters. The same procedures were repeated after 1 year on the 1352 patients (54%) who spontaneously returned to the same spa. Primary endpoints of the study were some indicators of the use of health resources related to the year after the first thermal cycle, compared with the same indicators recorded at first visit using appropriate statistical methods.
The occurrence of acute venous episodes, working days missed, number and duration of hospital admissions, consumption of drugs and physical therapies were all significantly reduced in the year after thermal therapy, thus indicating lesser use of health resources.
The study suggests that thermal hydrotherapy in patients with chronic venous disorders is associated with health and social benefits.