Salty solution

Last September (2012), an article on the front page of the Daily Express caught my eye. It’s not normally a paper that I’d read, but I couldn’t escape the headline screaming at me in the newsagent: ‘Salt baths ease the pain of arthritis, say experts’. Here’s the original article:

Research from Manchester University showed that high-salt solutions reduced inflammation. However, the study was conducted on mice so it would be interesting to see the results of clinical research using humans. I’d be happy to volunteer as it’s only using salt!

It took me a few months to actually try out the salt bath approach. It took time to recover from a bad reaction to hydroxychloroquine sulphate (hallucinations and bronchospasms) first, then to learn to deal with the migraines and permanent numbness I developed after starting injectable Methotrexate.

So, in January I started bathing my hands individually in hot saline water for 10 minutes per hand. I have been doing this every evening since. I use a standard mixing bowl that you’d use in cooking and line the base with table salt, quite liberally. I boil the water and fill the bowl about half-way. Then I top up the water with cold tap water, dipping one finger in to check the water’s hot but no longer boiling. Next, I simply plunge one hand in to the salty water (I do this sitting at a table as it’s easier than sitting on the sofa and less messy) and leave it submerged (up to the wrist) for 10 minutes. I repeat this process with the other hand.

I have found that doing this ritual every evening has made a big difference to the flexibility of my wrists and has helped to ease the arthritic pain in both hands. On the days when I haven’t been able to do this (i.e during a short 3 day holiday in Italy), I really noticed the stiffness returning. One downside is that it makes your hands really dry. Body Shop body butter has been a great discovery and has helped soften the skin. The dryness feels like a small price to pay for the continuous improvement in my hands.


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