Objective: To explore the effect of infrared radiation of a tiled stove on patients with hand osteoarthritis (OA).
Methods: A randomized controlled crossover study was performed with 45 patients with hand OA. This sample was randomly assigned to two groups: group A [first 3 hours spent three times a week during 3 weeks in a heated tiled stove room ('Stove Period') and after 2 weeks without treatment this group was observed for another 3 weeks ('Control Period')]; and group B (first assigned to the control period and the stove period following the treatment-free period). Assessments included the visual analogue scale (VAS) for general pain, pain in the hands, and global hand function, grip strength, the Moberg Picking-up Test (MPUT), the Australian/Canadian Osteoarthritis Hand Index (AUSCAN), and the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) 36-item Short-Form Health Status Survey (SF-36).
Results: Fourteen (31%) patients improved on the VAS for general pain at the end of the tiled stove period as compared to 10 patients (22%) during the control period (p = 0.314, chi2-test). The AUSCAN pain domain showed a significant improvement after the tiled stove period (p = 0.034). Others pain parameters analysed (VAS for pain in hands and SF-36 bodily pain) showed moderate but not significant improvement (p = 0.682 and p = 0.237, respectively) compared to the control period.
Conclusion: This study did not prove positive effects of the tiled stove exposure, although the numerical improvement in all pain measures suggests some possible positive effects on this symptom of hand OA.