A comparative study of the effect of sulphur baths and thermal baths in patients with knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled double-blind clinical study.
Although balneological therapies are among the most commonly used spa treatments worldwide, little scientific evidence exists for the effectiveness of the majority of balneological procedures, even though in some studies improvement effects of mineral baths could be shown in patients with osteoarthritis (OA).
To investigate the effects of sulphur bath therapy a study has been designed in which patients with Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee are treated for three weeks with sulphur baths or sulphur-free thermal water. The diagnosis OA of the knee was chosen as indication for the need of a course of treatment, because it is a frequent medical indication and because this ailment can be treated with the natural methods that the study addresses. The main question to be explored in the context of this study is whether sulphur baths in comparison to thermal baths lead to a significant improvement in subjective pain perception and/or in the functional ability in patients with OA of the knee.
In addition, the effects of treatment will be investigated at the serological, cellular and molecular level. Thus it will be interesting to see whether the effects observed so far in vitro are also seen ex vivo in the patients´ blood cells, particularly with respect to effects on cytokine expression and signal transduction pathways.
The study will be performed by Burkhard Klösch and coworkers in collaboration with the Center for Rheumatic Diseases, Vienna-Oberlaa (Rheuma-Zentrum Wien-Oberlaa) and has already been approved by the Center´s ethics committee. Patient recruitment will start at the beginning of 2013.