A pilot study undertaken on a small scale has suggested the likelihood of salt baths and hot muds imparting benefits to Osteoarthritis symptoms. The current treatment method for relieving Osteoarthritis symptoms comprises of pain medications and physiotherapy. The focus is delaying its progress besides alleviating pain and compensating for movement loss if any.
A study undertaken recently and appearing in the ‘International Journal of Biometeorology’ has investigated interventions called balneotherapy and peloid therapy as treatment options. Balneotherapy involves submersion of body in mineral enriched muds or waters. Peloid therapy comprises of mud or clay therapy.
The study involved 92 participants with 1-3 grades OA of the knee joint who were divided into three groups. Grades were based on Kellgren –Lawrence grading method. All three groups received the standard half an hour physiotherapy session; additionally, Group 1 participants were applied mulch mud on their leg and waist region while Group 2 received a salt bath, both for quarter of an hour. Temperatures of the mulch and salt water were 36-42 degree C and 36-38 degree C respectively. This ritual lasted for one month.
Anthropometric parameters comprising walking speed, agility of participants during their five times sit- to-stand sessions and their stretch of motion was evaluated by the researchers for the entire month.
The study revealed an improvement in the anthropometric parameters of the two groups as against the control group. The participants gave a positive feedback through a questionnaire.
However, more research is needed in this context as the participant number and run period of the study was small. The severity of the affliction was of lesser grade. Nothing could be said about the exact reasons for the improvement; if it was the warmth of the mud and salt water or the components themselves or just the extra relaxing time of 15 minutes. Moreover, the participants were largely women and hence no conclusions of the study effects could be drawn for men.
Nevertheless, the study does offer hope for balneotherapy and peloid therapy as treatment options for osteoarthritis symptoms.