Arthritis is a disorder caused by joint inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where the two different bones meet.
Medication and physical exercises like Yoga and Pilates are the common ways in which the diseases are being treated. These methods have side effects and are not suitable for many people.
Researchers are busy in searching for alternative treatments that are effective as well as acceptable by users. One such therapy is mud therapy.
What is mud therapy?
Mud therapy or fango therapy is a kind of thermotherapy where thermal mud with a high concentration of minerals is used for treatment.
Mud enriched with minerals are spread all over the body to purify and revitalize the tissues. After application of mud, perspiration and massage are also provided. It is found to be effective in treating the wound and rejuvenates skin.
Mud therapy includes active biological substances, microorganisms, non-organic and organic substances.
Depending on the purpose for mud therapy, the constituents and its amount vary.
The structure of the medicinal mud also varies with the objective to treat. There is three types structure of crystalline structure, colloidal complex, and muddy solution.
It helps in mineralization. This therapy acts as an immunostimulant and improves metabolic processes. It also enhances the blood circulation, stimulates bone cells, provides relaxation to eyes, etc.
5 Fantastic Proven Benefits of Mud Therapy in Arthritis
Research has investigated the therapeutic effect of mud therapy in arthritis.
1. Mud therapy reduces Inflammation and pain in arthritis
In a clinical trial, the effectiveness of the mud- bath therapy was disclosed. A placebo randomized trial was done in which one group was given three sessions of the mud-bath in a year whereas the other group didn’t receive any treatment. It was found that first group showed lesser pain than the latter group.
A similar study was performed with the patients with rheumatoid arthritis for three months; it was found morning stiffness, hand-grip strength improved in the group receiving mud pack with nutrients.
Mud packs derived from the Dead Sea applied for 20 minutes for three months also improved the ease of performing daily activities and patient’s assessment of disease activity.
This decrease in pain in fango therapy can be explained by a change in concentration of amino acid involved in cartilage homeostasis.
Mud therapy improves the level of nitric oxide, glutathione peroxidase serum and myeloperoxidase in arthritis patients. These are directly or indirectly involved with inflammation and pain. Steroids and antimicrobial activity of the mud activated pituitary gland and biochemical effects.
What does this mean?
This means that fango therapy or mud therapy significantly improves pain and reduces inflammation and stiffness in joints. It is beneficial in improving movements in both types of arthritis: osteoarthritis and rheumatic arthritis.
2. Mud therapy protects bone density in arthritis
As already known that decrease in bone mass density can cause arthritis (especially osteoarthritis). In a study, it was observed that osteophyte index and spinal bone mineral density are correlated. Low bone mineral density can potentially impair lumbar and can cause spinal osteoporosis.
It has been found that use of fango therapy for years can increase the bone mineral density.
A study conducted on women who were exposed to long term mud therapy. It was disclosed that risk of osteopenia and osteoarthritis was decreased as the number of years exposed to mud therapy increased.
In another study on animal model describes that hot bath doesn’t appear to be effective in osteoarthritis whereas cold mud bath reduces arthritic inflammation and pain by improving bone status.
What does this mean?
This means that long-term use of mud therapy is effective in increasing the bone mineral density and hence decreasing the risk of arthritis.
3. Mud therapy benefits in rheumatoid arthritis
Creatinine is a nitrogen based compound formed within the body from amino acid arginine, methionine, and glycine.
It is a by-product of creatine which is involved with muscle energy. Creatinine is a waste product and if accumulated in the body can cause severe complications.
A longitudinal study revealed that higher level is associated with rheumatoid arthritis patients. A rise is seen in creatinine level in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
It has been found that use of mud therapy can decrease the level of creatinine in blood and hence can prevent further complications.
Another study on rheumatoid arthritis patients to evaluate the efficacy of mud compresses for hand in rheumatoid arthritis reported that the mud treatment group showed significant decrease in the number of swollen and tender joints and a decline in pain in a period of 1 month a compared to control group
What does this mean?
This means that the mud therapy can reduce the creatinine levels in the blood that is a risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.It also shows that mud compresses are effective in reducing pain and decreasing the number of swollen and damaged joints in the hands
4. Mud therapy benefits in psoriatic arthritis.
TNF-alpha or tumor necrosis factor is a key player in the inflammatory process. Various drugs are designed to inhibit the activity of TNF-alpha.
It was found that TNF inhibitors have minimal effect on synovial inflammation in psoriatic arthritis patients. Therefore, another study was conducted to assess the effects of mud therapy on such patients.
A decrease in residual synovial inflammation was seen in psoriatic arthritis patients treated with TNF inhibitors.
What does this mean?
This means that the inflammation in synovial fluid can be decreased by the exposure of spa or mud therapy.
5. Mud therapy relieves osteoarthritis symptoms
Mud therapy is suggested to be one of the most regularly used non-pharmacological approaches. In a clinical trial, it has been found that cycle of mud therapy along with the usual treatment has a beneficial effect on pain and functionality of knee.
This constructive effect was attributed to the increase in serum biomarker and an increase of cartilage turnover which is induced by thermal stress.
In another study, it was found that mud therapy increased the glucosamine crystalline sulfate levels.
What does this mean?
This means that mud bath therapy can decrease the inflammation of synovial fluid by increasing the glucosamine in the fluid.
Is Mud therapy effective in treating arthritis?
With the available studies, one can conclude that the mud therapy is effective in treating arthritis.
Studies have shown that mud therapy decreases pain and inflammation in joints. It is beneficial for both the type of arthritis.
The number of studies is limited, and studies have been done on small sample size so that the studies may lack generalizability.
A recently published meta-analysis states that mud therapy doesn’t significantly reduce pain. Further studies need to be performed for confirming the effectiveness of mud therapy in arthritis.
Make sure that the mud used in mud therapy is of good quality and is free from pollutants and contaminants. Conduct a patch test before using mud therapy.
Red mud used for rheumatic arthritis is consumed after recommendation by an expert about the dose regime.
A very thick layer of mud pack may cause an irritation headache.
The mud pack needs to be applied for 20-30 minutes only, not less nor more than this.
Once the mud pack has been used, it shouldn’t be reused.
Mud therapy of fango therapy is effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Reduction in pain can restore movement of joints. It is effective in for either of arthritis. It can help in regaining the bone mineral density and can prevent osteoarthritis.
Mud therapy can effectively reduce the serum creatinine levels which can serve as the risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.
It has also found to decrease swollen and tender joints and decrease the synovial fluid inflammation.
The amount of evidence is few and so further studies are required to confirm the efficacy of mud therapy in arthritis.