Objectives: To evaluate the safety and effects of a new home treatment method, a whole-body cold mist treatment, on patients with chronic inflammatory arthritis.
Method: Whole-body cold mist shower therapy was given to 121 voluntary patients with chronic inflammatory arthritis in this crossover study during 1-week rehabilitation periods. Pain and sleep quality were assessed by a 10-cm visual analogue scale (VAS). Mental status was assessed by the Depression Scale (DEPS). Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, use of occasional pain and sleep medication, and possible side-effects were recorded.
Results: The differences in pain (VAS) between treatment and control periods were significant (2.0 vs. 2.4, p = 0.006, paired t-test) in the last measurement, when assessing the pain of the past week as a whole. A trend could be seen of an increasing difference towards the end of the week. The treatment effect was statistically significant [likelihood ratio test (LRT), p < 0.0001] after controlling for period and sequence effects. There was an indication of better sleep quality (VAS) during the treatment period (2.3 vs. 2.7, p = 0.058 paired t-test) when assessing the past week as a whole. The mean DEPS scores showed no difference between the treatment periods (5.5 vs. 5.0, p = 0.1874 paired t-test, at start, and 4.5 vs. 4.1 p = 0.29 paired t-test, at the end). No significant side-effects were recorded.
Conclusions: The new whole-body cold treatment method may offer a safe option for self-treatment of pain at home but further study is needed to determine the clinical significance of the effect after longer use.