Fioravanti A, Tenti S, Giannitti C, Fortunati NA, Galeazzi M.
Rheumatology Unit, Department of Clinical Medicine and Immunological Sciences, University of Siena, Viale Bracci,1, 53100, Siena, Italy
The aim of this study was to evaluate both the short-term and the long-term effectiveness of spa therapy in patients with primary hand osteoarthritis (OA). This was a prospective randomized, single blind controlled trial. Sixty outpatients with primary bilateral hand OA were included in the study and randomized to one of two groups. One group (n = 30) was treated with 12 daily local mud packs and generalized thermal baths with a sulfate-calcium-magnesium-fluorides mineral water added to usual treatment. The control group (n = 30) continued regular outpatient care routine (exercise, NSAIDs and/or analgesics). Each patient was examined at baseline, after 2 weeks, and after 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. Primary outcome measures were global spontaneous hand pain on a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the functional index for hand osteoarthritis (FIHOA) score; secondary outcomes were health assessment questionnaire (HAQ), duration of morning stiffness, medical outcomes study 36-item short form (SF-36) and symptomatic drugs consumption. Our results demonstrated that the efficacy of spa therapy was significant in all the assessed parameters, both at the end of therapy and after 3 months; the values of FIHOA, HAQ and drugs consumption continued to be significantly better after 6 months in comparison with baseline. There were no significant modifications of the parameters throughout the follow-up in the control group. Differences between the two groups were significant for all parameters at the 15th day and at 3 months follow-up; regarding FIHOA, HAQ, and symptomatic drugs consumption, the difference between the two groups persisted and was significant at 6month follow-up. Tolerability of spa therapy seemed to be good. In conclusion, our results confirm that the beneficial effects of spa therapy in patients with hand OA last over time.