Mineral baths help arthritis patients take ‘longer,’ ‘faster’ strides

Osteoarthritis: Elaine reveals her experience of the condition

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Around 10 million people in the UK suffer with arthritis or some form of joint problem. It can cause painful and swollen joints, making mobility difficult. Although there is no cure, there are a number of things you can try to ease symptoms.

According to a study, published in Rheumatology International, the repeated use of spa treatments had a positive impact on osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the UK.

It causes joint pain and stiffness, as well as problems moving the joint.

Some with the condition might also experience swelling, tenderness and a crackling sound when moving the joints.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones crumbles.

This can result in growths, leaving the area red and swollen.

Most commonly it affects the knees, hips and small joints of the hands.

As part of the research, which was conducted by academics at Istanbul University, 30 participants with knee osteoarthritis between the ages of 49 and 77 had two 20 minute mineral baths every day for two weeks at a spa centre.

The minerals in the water mainly consisted of sodium, chloride, sul-fate, bicarbonate and fluoride.

Both baths ran at about 37C with the first held between 8am and 10am and the second between 4pm and 5pm.

The study explains: “Patients were advised to continue to have their medication ‘as is’ and the researchers made no modification to the treatment regimes.

“No other treatment modalities such as physical therapy, exercises, massage, sauna or acupuncture were given during the treatment period.”

Patients were evaluated before, during and after the spa treatment.

“Patients were walking faster in their control analyses, with a shorter mean stance time, an increased cadence and stride length,” it says.

“Balneotherapy also resulted in a significant decrease in Lequesne knee osteoarthritis index, visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain, VAS for patients’ and investigator’s global assessment and WOMAC score.

“Balneotherapy has positive effects on gait properties and clinical health quality parameters of patients with knee osteoarthritis in short-term evaluations.”

The team also noted the positive effects remained for at least 12 weeks and as far as eight months later.

They conclude: “Using the presented study design, only short-term favourable effects of spa therapy in osteoarthritis patients could be proven.

“Because of the reasons listed previously, we were unable to follow up the patients for longer periods.

“In conclusion, the presented prospective study has shown that a two-week spa treatment with twice daily baths has positive effects on gait characteristics of patients with mild or moderate knee osteoarthritis.”

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