Research Exclusive: Mud Therapy Improves Knee Osteoarthritis, MASSAGE MagazineAs part of a recent study, older people with knee osteoarthritis received 11 consecutive sessions of mud-pack therapy, which resulted in significant improvements in both pain and functional capacity.

The study, “Clinical effectiveness of mud pack therapy in knee osteoarthritis,” involved 121 subjects ranging in age from 65 to 80, all of whom had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis.

These subjects were randomly assigned to either the intervention group or the control group. The 60 subjects in the control group simply continued with their daily medication, whereas the 61 subjects in the intervention group received 11 consecutive sessions of mud-pack therapy.

Each of these intervention sessions lasted 47 minutes and followed a standard protocol. The sessions began with the use of brushes to apply the mud, followed by a 30-minute drying period. Next, participants received a 15-minute mud bath with thermal water. After that, a thermal jet was applied for two minutes to remove the mud.

The mud-pack therapy occurred at a spa in Spain, where the mud comes from a natural spring. According to the researchers, this mud “obtains its chemical and thermophysical properties appropriate for its application after one month of maturity and at a temperature between 20 and 30 degrees.”

The study’s authors report that the mud used for the therapy sessions contains calcite, silica, albite and orthoclase, and its mineral waters contain high levels of chloride, sodium, calcium and bicarbonate.

Among the main outcome measures for this study were knee flexion and extension range of movement, assessed using a manual goniometer. Muscle strength was another outcome measure, evaluated through digital spring scales.

A third outcome measure was perceived pain, assessed using a visual analog scale. Functional capacity was the final outcome measure, evaluated through the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index.

Each of the above assessments took place before and after the start of the intervention period. When compared, the data showed significant improvements on all of these outcome measures among subjects in the intervention group, whereas no significant improvements were found on any of the measures among subjects in the control group.

“Definitely, mud-pack therapy on patients diagnosed with knee [osteoarthritis] obtains immediate effects on the symptomatic management of the illness,” state the study’s authors, “therefore constructing an alternative treatment to pharmacological treatment.”

Authors: Luis Espejo-Antúnez, María Ángeles Cardero-Durán, Elisa María Garrido-Ardila, Silvia Torres-Piles and Berta Caro-Puértolas.

Sources: Department of Medical-Surgical Therapy, Extremadura University, Badajoz, Spain; Centro de Atención Socio-Sanitario Puente Real, Badajoz, Spain; and San Fernando Primary Health Centre, National Health Service, Badajoz, Spain. Originally published in April 2013 in Rheumatology, 52(4), 659-668.