Author(s): Bostan B
OBJECTIVES: Conservative treatment should be tried prior to surgical treatment in knee osteoarthritis. This study was designed to evaluate the short-term effects of mud-pack therapy on pain relief and functional improvement in knee osteoarthritis in comparison with intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections. METHODS: The study included 23 patients who were diagnosed as having knee osteoarthritis according to the ACR (American College of Rheumatology) criteria, and had complaints lasting for more than three months. All the patients had stage 2 or 3 osteoarthritis radiographically according to the Kellgren-Lawrence criteria. Twelve patients (3 males, 9 females; mean age 54+/-6 years; range 46 to 67 years) received mud therapy bilaterally. Mud packs were heated to 45 degrees C and applied on both knees for 30 minutes daily for a total of 12 weekdays. Eleven patients (2 males, 9 females; mean age 53+/-9 years; range 40 to 66 years) received a total of three bilateral intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections, each interspersed by weekly intervals. The patients were evaluated before and after treatment in terms of pain and functionality using the pain subscale of the WOMAC (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities) osteoarthritis index, Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) score, and Knee Society clinical rating system (knee and function scores). The patients were followed-up for a mean of 5.9+/-6.3 months (range 4 to 8 months) after mud-pack therapy, and 5.8+/-0.8 months (range 5 to 7 months) after intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections. RESULTS: No significant differences were found between the two groups with respect to pre-and posttreatment WOMAC, HSS, and knee and function scores (p>0.05). The scores of all instruments showed significant improvements following treatment in both groups (p<0.001). Posttreatment changes in relation to baseline scores did not differ significantly between the two groups (p>0.05). CONCLUSION: Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections or mud-pack therapy yielded similar results in the short-term in terms of functional improvement and pain relief. Mud-pack therapy is a noninvasive, complication-free, and cost-effective alternative modality for the conservative treatment of knee osteoarthritis.