Recent findings from SRUK-funded study of wax-bath treatments for scleroderma published

The musculoskeletal features of systemic sclerosis (SSc) are a major cause of disability, causing limitations to movement and function. The study aim was to compare the effects of daily hand exercises with or without daily home wax bath hand treatment in patients with SSc.

A recently conducted trial investigating the effectiveness of wax-bath therapy in addition to hand exercises for patients with scleroderma has found no additional benefit when comparing those who underwent the therapy to a control group that only performed hand exercises.

The lead author and director of the research William Gregory is a Consultant Physiotherapist for Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Visiting Lecturer at The University of Manchester. The research was wholly funded by SRUK and will be published in the next issue of Physiotherapy1, a peer-reviewed journal of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, this September.

The study's author states: "Our findings suggest that the addition of regular wax bath treatment confers no additional beneficial effect to standard care with daily home exercises." It's important to note, that while this suggests that wax-baths do not provide any measurable benefit over and above the "standard care with daily home exercises" mentioned here, the study did clearly show that the hand exercises alone did confer improvements in both groups of patients over the period they were being assessed (see figure below).


Although this is what the scientific community refers to as a "negative finding", meaning that there was not a statistically significant difference between the test group and the control group, it is still a valuable contribution to our understanding of the benefits of physiotherapy for those with systemic sclerosis. One of the insights that the study's author provides is that "Very few RCTs (Randomised Controlled Trials) have been carried out in SSc (Systemic Sclerosis) rehabilitation. This study adds to this thin body of research." What this means is that this is one of the earliest published results in a growing field of research, that may help to guide further studies in this area.

If you'd like to help SRUK fund more research into treatments and therapies to help those with scleroderma, you can donate online today.

To find our more about wax bath therapy for scleroderma, visit our page explaining how it's done: Wax Bath Therapy

[1] Physiotherapy Volume 105, Issue 3, September 2019, Pages 370-377