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Study Finds Hot Mud Packs Temporarily Relieve Osteoarthritis Pain

  [ 81 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • October 7, 2002

New research from the Soroka University Medical Center and the Health Science Department of Ben Gurion University in Israel, have determined that natural mud compresses can temporarily relieve the pain of knee osteoarthritis.

Mud pack therapy is an alternative mode of treatment based on the application of heated mud packs to the entire body or to localized areas such as joints and muscles to provide temporary relief of arthritis pain. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology (2002; 8:197-203), ventured to determine if this therapy was effective for patients experiencing pain resulting from osteoarthritis of the knee.

The double blind, controlled study included 58 osteoarthritis patients suffering from chronic knee pain. Forty patients were treated with mineral-rich mud compresses, while 18 controls were treated with mineral-depleted mud compresses. The treatment period lasted three weeks, with applications five times a week, and all of the compresses being applied within the patient’s home.

All of the participants were evaluated at baseline, after the 3 week period, and twice after the conclusion of the treatment period at one month and 3 months. Patients were assessed using the Lequesne Index of severity of knee osteoarthritis, self-assessment surveys of pain, and severity of knee pain on a visual analog scale. Patients showing a reduction of 20% or more in the pain score were considered clinically significant.

Results of the treatment showed that the group receiving the natural, mineral-rich compress had a significant reduction in knee pain during all assessments, with 72% of these patients showing significant improvement of 20% or more. Similarly, improvements in the Lequesne Index was observed at the end of the therapy and a month after treatment. The control group, receiving the mineral-depleted compress did not show any significant change in knee pain at any assessment.

The researchers concluded the study stating, “The data suggest that treatment with mud compresses, but only in their natural form, temporarily relieves pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knees. We believe that treatment with mud compresses might augment conventional medical therapy in these patients.”

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