Spa Therapy Improves Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

symptoms of osteoarthritis

To complement the Research Reports in the June 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: For subjects in a recent study, 18 days of spa therapy resulted in both immediate and longer-term improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis, including pain, reduced function and lower quality of life.

After receiving various forms of spa therapy for 18 days, people with generalized osteoarthritis showed immediate improvements, as well as somewhat long-term improvements, in pain, function and quality of life, according to recent research.

The study, “Spa Therapy for Generalized Osteoarthritis: an Open, Observational, Preliminary Study,” involved 99 people who had received a clinical diagnosis of generalized osteoarthritis. These patients were assigned to receive 18 days of spa therapy at Aix-Les-Bains National Thermal Center in France.

9 different spa treatments

The intervention protocol involved a variety of spa treatments, and study participants received three different spa treatments per day throughout the 18-day intervention period. The spa treatments used in this study were:

  • Ten minutes of mineral-water cloud application at a temperature of 98.6 to 113 F
  • Application of mineral-water-enriched clay for 14 minutes at a temperature of 113 to 125.6 F
  • Mineral-water shower for seven minutes at a temperature of 100.4 F
  • Underwater massage for 10 minutes in mineral water at a temperature of 110.4 F
  • Ten minutes of standard dry massage
  • Ten minutes of free movement followed by 15 minutes of water exercise in a mineral-water pool at a temperature of 95 F
  • Ten-minute bath in a mineral-water pool with underwater jets at a temperature of 95 F
  • Ten- to 20-minute bath in a mineral-water tub with underwater jets at a temperature of 100.4 F
  • Fifteen minutes of free immersion in a mineral-water pool heated to 95 F

The main outcome measures for the study were improvements in pain, function and quality of life among the subjects, both at the end of the 18-day intervention period and again at a follow-up evaluation eight months later.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis improved

Results of the research revealed a clinically relevant improvement in symptoms of osteoarthritis in 61 percent of the patients at the end of the intervention period—a number that rose to 68 percent at the eight-month follow-up assessment.

“As a conclusion, spa treatment may have middle-long term positive effects on pain, function and quality of life of patients with [generalized osteoarthritis] and seems to be well-tolerated,” stated the study’s authors.

Authors: Fatma Begüm Erol, Romain J. Forestier, Fulya Demircioglu Güneri, M. Zeki Karagülle and Nergis Erdoğan.

Sources: Istanbul Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey; Centre de Recherche Rhumatologique et Thermale, Aix-Les-Bains, France; Ankara Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Training and Research Hospital, Ankara, Turkey; Medical Ecology and Hydroclimatology Department, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey. Originally published online in December 2014 in Thérapie.

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