The objective of this study was to determine whether spa therapy, plus home exercises and usual medical treatment provides any benefit over exercises and usual treatment, in the management of knee osteoarthritis. Large multicentre randomised prospective clinical trial of patients with knee osteoarthritis according to the American College of Rheumatology criteria, attending French spa resorts as outpatients between June 2006 and April 2007. Zelen randomisation was used so patients were ignorant of the other group and spa personnel were not told which patients were participating. The main endpoint criteria were patient self-assessed. All patients continued usual treatments and performed daily standardised home exercises. The spa therapy group also received 18 days of spa therapy (massages, showers, mud and pool sessions). The intention to treat analysis included 187 controls and 195 spa therapy patients. At 6 months, 99/195 (50.8%) spa group patients had MCII and 68/187 (36.4%) controls However, no improvement in quality of life (Short Form 36) or patient acceptable symptom state was observed at 6 months.
For patients with knee osteoarthritis a 3-week course of spa therapy together with home exercises and usual pharmacological treatments offers benefit after 6 months compared with exercises and usual treatment alone, and is well tolerated.
Forestier R, Desfour H, Tessier JM, FranÃ§on A, Foote AM, Genty C, Rolland C, Roques CF, Bosson JL. Spa therapy in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis: a large randomised multicentre trial. Ann Rheum Dis. 2010 Apr;69(4):660-5