Arthritis is a term that is used to describe a disorder affecting the joints. It describes inflammation and pain in the joints and the tissues surrounding them.
A joint is an area where two different bones meet, and its function is the movement of body parts connected to it.
Symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, inflammation, and swelling of the affected joints. Two commonly occurring types of arthritis are: Rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disorder affecting the hands and feet and
Osteoarthritis occurs due to the weakening of bone in the elderly with age affecting the knees, hips, and fingers.
Ankylosing spondylitis is another type of arthritis associated with severe chronic pain in the neck and the spine.
Spa therapy and mineral water have been found to be effective in the treatment of patients who have arthritis and alleviating symptoms of arthritis.
We will start by discussing the importance of spa therapy and mineral water followed by its health benefits in arthritis.
What are spa therapy and mineral water treatment for health?
Water-based therapies are gaining extreme popularity in the treatment of arthritis.
Spa therapy also referred to as Balneotherapy involves bathing in mineral or thermal waters with a mudpack, steam or sauna and is considered as a medicinal bath.
Mineral water is known to possess a variety of beneficial properties that contribute to good health.
These treatments have shown to be effective in relieving pain, inflammation, and stiffness in the joints associated with arthritis. Various researchers are evaluating the benefits of spa therapy and mineral water to fight joint related disorders.
Now, let’s have a look at the benefits of spa therapy and mineral water in alleviating symptoms and treatment of arthritis in detail.
6 Benefits of spa therapy and mineral water in arthritis
Research studies have proven that regular sessions of spa therapy can relieve pain in many arthritic conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.
1. It provides relief from chronic pain
Patients who have arthritis go through severe chronic pain in the affected joints and muscles that restrict their movement.
This pain can last up to 6 months if not treated.
According to clinical trials conducted on paints with osteoarthritis Roques et al. in 2016, spa therapy with mineral water has a variety of therapeutic benefits in arthritis.
Results revealed that patients undergoing balneotherapy showed significant improvement in chronic pain indicating that mineral water and mudpacks have possessed analgesic activity.
The therapy also reduced fibromyalgia which s a chronic pain in the muscles and tissues, a common symptom faced by arthritis patients.
Another clinical study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2007 demonstrated that intake of mineral baths soothes pain and improves the quality of life in patients suffering from osteoarthritis.
In a study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice in 2011, patients suffering from fibromyalgia were provided with thermal water therapy in combination with sauna and exercise.
The therapy provided significant relief from pain within 12 weeks.
What does this mean? Spa therapies with mineral water possess an analgesic action that helps soothe pain and improve the function of the joints in patients who have arthritis.
2. It improves the activity of the immune system
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which develops as a result of an overactive immune system.
The immune system might attack cells lining the joints leading to this condition.
A weak immune system may also attack the body leading to microbial infection in the infected joints.
Spa therapy with mineral water has an immune stimulatory effect. This can help modulate the activity of the immune system and keep it strong.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 1999 revealed that subjects were treated with warm water for one hour followed by exposure to cold.
This resulted in an immune stimulatory effect enhancing the activity of the immune system cells, leukocytes, granulocytes, natural killer cells, and interleukins.
The study suggested that physical exercise improves the actions of spa therapy.
A study published in Autoimmunity recently reported that radon (chemical element) spa therapy modulates immune system cells and attenuates inflammation produced by an overactive immune system.
This can be effective especially in those suffering from chronic painful inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
What does this mean? Mineral water can stimulate the immune system cells thereby maintaining a healthy immune system and preventing infections in the affected joints. This therapy can also prove essential in regulating the activity of an overactive immune system as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis.
3. It improves the functioning of the joints enabling movement
Due to chronic pain, inflammation and swelling in the joints that restrict the paints from movement.
This harms the quality the life due to the inability of joints to move or work properly.
Spa therapy and mineral water help in treating these symptoms so that the function of the joints can be brought back to a healthier state.
Clinical analysis performed by Karagulle et al. of patients given spa therapy revealed that the therapy significantly reduced pain and thereby functioning of the joints like the hip, knees, and hand affected by arthritis.
The therapy is clinically prescribed to relieve lower back pain, ankylosing spondylitis, muscle and tissue pain and swollen joints.
A study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology in 2016 analyzed cases of 219 elderly patients with knee osteoarthritis receiving spa therapy.
The study concluded that spa therapy reduced pain and improved function of the affected joints.
It was found to be effective in general and multiple joint osteoarthritides.
What does this mean? Spa therapy with thermal or mineral water has a variety of benefits in treating symptoms of pain and swelling of the joints Besides these it also significantly improves the functioning of affected joints enhancing movement and improving the quality of life.
4. It relieves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
Spa therapy has been found to be effective in treating symptoms specifically associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Randomized clinical trials on rheumatoid arthritis patients conducted by Fraction et al. in 2009 suggested that spa therapy can be beneficial in improving pain within 12 weeks and reducing the dependency of patients on the drugs.
What does this mean? Spa therapy can reduce pain quickly in rheumatoid arthritis patients and has found to be effective in reducing their dependency on prescribed drugs that may cause side effects.
5. It helps in severe osteoarthritis
Several aged individuals suffer from osteoarthritis that greatly affects their overall well-being.
A study published in Clinical Rheumatology in 2007 demonstrated a ten-day course wherein osteoarthritis patients received spa therapy for their treatment.
Results of the study revealed that the therapy reduced pain more effectively than drugs used for relieving pain. It also improved the functional status of the affected joints.
Another study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology indicated that spa therapy has beneficial effects in alleviating symptoms of pain, stiffness, and quality of life in patients with osteoarthritis and its effects remain stable and effective for 6-9 months.
One study published in the same journal in 2016 confirmed that spa treatment has a positive effect on the treatment of osteoarthritis. However further in-depth studies are required to reveals its mechanism of action on the condition.
What does this mean? Spa therapy seems to have positive results in alleviating symptoms associated with osteoarthritis including pain, the functioning of the joints and overall wellbeing of the patient however its mechanism of action is yet to be known.
6. Spa therapy soothes pain in ankylosing spondylitis
Ankylosing spondylitis is a medical condition and a type of arthritis characterized by severe pain and stiffness from the neck extending up to the spine.
According to a study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism in 2001 clinical trial on patients with ankylosing spondylitis revealed that spa therapy combined with exercise and prescribed medications play a keen role in the treatment of the condition beneficial effects of the combination therapy lasted for 40 weeks.
A research study reported by Tubergen et al. in 2002 revealed that spa therapies involve exercise and help in the treatment of ankylosing spondylitis.
What does this mean? Spa therapy can relieve patients suffering from ankylosing spondylitis in combination with regular exercise and prescribed medications for the condition.
Is spa and mineral water therapy safe and effective for arthritis?
As per the above research studies once can conclude that spa therapy treatments are beneficial for patients suffering from rheumatoid as well as osteoarthritis.
There is sufficient evidence available to reveal that Spa therapy significantly reduces pain, swelling in the joints, muscle and tissue pain improves movements and functioning of the affected joints and reduces dependency on drugs.
Since there are no evidence-based studies confirming the mechanism of action of spa therapy one needs to needs to consider certain general precautions.
Those suffering from hypertension, drug addiction, infectious diseases, fever, epileptic seizures, and blood circulation disorders must avoid spa therapies.
Pregnant and lactating women must avoid spa therapy unless advised by a doctor.
Spa therapy with mineral or thermal water, mudpacks in combination with regular physical exercise can reveal positive results in the treatment of arthritis.
It has been found to be safe and effective however one must always consider the precaution to be taken before opting for any such therapy.
Since spa therapy has found to be effectively active than drugs used for the condition it can reduce the dependency of patients with arthritis on drugs preventing side effects.
However, spa therapy can be used as an add-on therapy along with exercise and medications if necessary for seeking complete treatment to the medical condition.