Objective: To investigate the effects of treatment with paraffin bath in patients with systemic sclerosis (scleroderma).
Methods: In 17 patients with scleroderma one hand was treated daily with paraffin bath in combination with hand exercise. The other hand was treated with exercise only and was considered a control. Hand function was estimated before treatment and after 1 month of treatment, concerning hand mobility and grip force, and perceived pain, stiffness and skin elasticity.
Results: At the follow-up, finger flexion and extension, thumb abduction, volar flexion in the wrist, and perceived stiffness and skin elasticity had improved significantly in the paraffin-treated hand compared with the baseline values. The improved hand function was independent of skin score and disease duration. Improvements in function were significantly greater in the hand which was treated with paraffin bath and exercise than in the hand treated with exercise only concerning extension deficit, perceived stiffness and skin elasticity.
Conclusions: In this pilot study hand exercise in combination with paraffin bath seemed to improve mobility, perceived stiffness and skin elasticity. However, further studies with larger sample size are needed to attain more reliable results of the effect of paraffin bath treatment in patients with scleroderma.