Does mud pack treatment have any chemical effect? A randomized controlled clinical study

J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jun;14(5):559-65. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0003.


Objective: The aim of this study was to reveal the efficacy of mud pack treatment in patients with knee osteoarthritis and to find the contribution of chemical factors to the build up of these effects.

Methods: Sixty patients were randomly assigned to directly applied mud pack (study) group or to nylon-covered mud pack (control) group. Thirty patients in the study group had mud application 15 times to both knees: heated mud, up to 43 degrees C, was applied to skin directly for 30 minutes. Thirty patients in the control group had the same treatment as the study group except heated mud was applied over an impermeable nylon pack. Primary outcome measures of the study were the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities (WOMAC) index, pain intensity on a visual analog scale (VAS), patient's assessment of disease severity index, physician's assessment of disease severity index, and analgesic consumption. The patients were evaluated before and after (end of 15th application) the intervention and followed up for 24 weeks at 4-week intervals. The results were assessed on an intent-to-treat basis.

Results: As compared to the baseline, significant decreases were observed in WOMAC, pain intensity, disease severity index scores, and analgesic consumption in both groups after the intervention. Observed improvements in the study group were found to be superior to the control during the whole postintervention follow-up, except for analgesic consumption in the third week. A significant number of patients in the study group showed minimal clinically important improvement as compared to the control group.

Conclusion: Mud pack treatment significantly improved the pain and functional status of patients with knee osteoarthritis, whether applied directly or coated with nylon. Direct application was found to be superior, which implies chemical properties of the mud contribute to the build up of therapeutic effect.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Balneology / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Mud Therapy / methods*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / therapy*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking*