Effectiveness of Herbal Steam Bath for Pain Relief in Patients with Lom Jab Pong Haeng Khao (Osteoarthritis of the Knee)

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preecha nootim
Maneerat Chuenjai
Pornchai Sawangwong
Pimlada Pongchaichanon
Amornrat Rachderm


Knee osteoarthritis is the most common cause of joint dysfunction, the world’s public health issue that is affecting people's quality of life. Knee osteoarthritis is referred to as Lom Jab Pong Haeng Khao in Thai traditional medicine, which has been found to be effective for pain relief when using herbal drugs or therapeutic massage combined with herbal compression. However, in a group of patients with Lom Chap Pong Haeng Khao, there had never been any herbal remedies with the formula of a compress ball combined with herbal steam bath. This experimental research aimed to investigate the efficacy of herbal steam bath in relieving knee pain in patients with Lom Chap Pong Haeng Khao. The study involved two groups of 31 participants each. The experimental group was given herbal steam bath, while the control group was given steam bath. Both groups received the steam treatment three times per week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) with 15 minutes of steaming, 5 minutes of rest outside, and 15 minutes of steaming, for a total of 12 sessions over a four-week period. A general information questionnaire, pain visual analog scale (VAS), range of motion (ROM), and the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) were used to collect data, which were analyzed to determine percentages, means, and standard deviations, and hypothesis testing was carried out using repeated measures ANOVA. The results showed that the experimental group had lower pain (VAS) levels than the control group, and significantly lower than the control group (p < 0.001) in weeks 3 and 4. The ROM of extension and flexion on the left side and extension on the right side increased from week 1 through week 4 in both groups, but not significantly, while the ROM of flexion on the right side of the experimental group significantly increased more than the control group (p < 0.001) since weeks 1–3 and (p < 0.005) in week 4. Based on the WOMAC data, the experimental group's pain level, joint stiffness, and physical function were better than before the trial. The comparative analysis of the mean scores between the groups after the experimentation showed that the experimental group had significantly lower pain level than the control group (p < 0.01) and (p < 0.001) in weeks 3 and 4, the joint stiffness was significantly less than the control group (p < 0.05) and (p < 0.001) in weeks 3 and 4, and the physical function was significantly better than the control group (p < 0.01) and (p < 0.001) in weeks 3 and 4. In sum, since the third week, herbal steam bath had been found to reduce pain and disease severity, and improve physical function; and heat is thought to change the viscoelastic properties of collagenous tissues, resulting in rising pain relief as well as ROM and WOMAC levels


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