Clinical effects of Infrared whole-body Hyperthermia               
in patients with rheumatic disease

(Preliminary results)

Patients report positive effects of Infrared (IR) sauna whole-body hyperthermia. Therefore two studies respectively
in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) are conducted.


Patients with RA or AS between 18 and 70 years of age are included. They are treated during 4 weeks with a series
of 8 IR sessions in a sauna cabin (30 minutes at an ambient temperature of 131°F). Before (O2), during and directly
after (O2a) the first sauna treatment well-being on a Likert scale and pain, stiffness and fatigue on a Visual Analog
Scale are measured.

These latter measurements are also performed before (O1, O2) and after (O3, O4) the series of 8 IR sauna
treatments. Additionally over the 12 weeks study period for the RA patients’ range of motion (EPM-ROM scale),
physical scales of the DUTCH-AIMS2 and disease activity by means of Ritchie score, numbers of swollen joints
and ESR are recorded.

For AS patients BASGS (a Global Index), BASMI (a ROM-Index), BASFI (a Functional Index) and BASDAI
(a Disease Activity Index) is applied. Results are all expressed as mean and standard error of mean (SEM)
and where applicable also 95% confidence intervals are calculated.


Infrared sauna seems to have a positive effect upon pain, stiffness and fatigue and functional ability in RA as well
as in AS patients, without increasing disease activity.

Our preliminary results indicate that also clinical relevant and statistically significant beneficial effects may be
expected at conclusion of the study.

F.G.J. Oosterveld, J.J. Rasker, M.A.F.J. van de Larr and G.J. Koel

Departments of Rheumatology and Physiotherapy, Medisch Spectrum Twente and University Twente Enschede,
The Netherlands