For those of you who like to get down and dirty in the tub, this one is for you.
New research is indicating that mud or salt baths may help reduce joint pain, improve mobility, and quality of life among people over age 60. The results provide another option to support your current efforts to alleviate sore joints. Efforts that likely include herbal and vitamin supplementation, an anti-inflammatory diet, exercise, and the occasional over-the-counter medication, am I right?
Mud therapy—also known as peloid therapy—uses peat med, humus, and other minerals to treat pain or other conditions. It is applied warm/hot for a set amount of time before being removed. Balneotherapy is when the entire body immersed in mineral water (or mud), like a salt or magnesium bath.
A recent study observed that both of these treatments, when combined with physical therapy, produced significantly better results for joint pain, mobility, walking speed, and getting in and out of chairs than physical therapy alone. The work was published in the September 2019 issue of the International Journal of Biometerology and looked at the effect of peloid therapy and salt baths on hips and knees. Earlier research from 2017 has offered similar results on joint pain in the wrist, where results showed mud therapy could reduce pain in the area and improve grip strength.
It should be noted that both of these trials were small and short, lasting about one-to-two months each. Further, it is still yet to be established if the results are from the minerals themselves, the heat of the therapy (the mud applied and water used to bath were both very warm/hot), or the fact that both procedures are rather relaxing.
In any event, this therapy may be worth exploring. It’s cheap, easily accessible, and could improve mobility while providing some relaxation. In the study mentioned above, mud was heated to 36-42 C (97-108 F) prior to application and left on for 20 minutes every second day. The salt baths were in 36-38 C (97-100 F) water, where participants soaked for 15 minutes every second day. All participants were undergoing physical therapy for their joint pain, as well.