Lower back pain is the number 2 reason in the U.S. (after colds and the flu) for a visit to the doctor. Millions of people suffer needlessly. For many years Europeans have used spa therapy (soaking in hot baths of mineral water) as an alternative treatment for various chronic diseases. And there’s always been anecdotal evidence that the hot water and jets of a spa relieve back pain. Yet, the effectiveness of such therapy for chronic low back pain has not been well documented.
In 1995, a study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology offered evidence that hot tub therapy has both short- and long-term benefits for people with lower back pain. A later study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology by a group of researchers in France, sought to confirm these results and quantify the overall benefits of spa therapy.
After three weeks of consistent spa therapy, examinations showed more improvement in the health status (as measured in pain duration and intensity and back flexibility) of the spa treatment group than of the medication-only group. After six months, significant improvement continued in the spa therapy group. In addition, their use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs had decreased.
The preceding research information was featured in the March-April 1996 issue of Arthritis Today, compiled and edited by Mary Anne Dunkin.