Title. Effects of thermal therapy on uremic pruritus and biochemical parameters in patients having haemodialysis.
Aim. This paper is a report of a trial to identify the effect of thermal therapy with far-infrared rays in comparison with non-thermal therapy on uremic pruritus and biochemical parameters.
Background. Uremic pruritus remains one of the most frustrating, common, and potentially disabling symptoms in patients undergoing haemodialysis. The mechanism underlying uremic pruritus is poorly understood. Although enough is known to determine a reasonable treatment approach, more research is needed to evaluate more reliable treatments.
Methods. A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial was conducted in 2005 using questionnaires and measurement of blood biochemical parameters. A total of 41 uremic patients on maintenance haemodialysis were randomly assigned either to the thermal therapy group or the control group. The thermal therapy group was treated with 40°C thermal therapy with far-infrared rays at the Sanyinjiao acupoint for 15 minutes once a day on two days a week for a total of 18 sessions. The control group received a plain adhesive patch placed on the same acupoint.
Findings. Both groups showed statistically significant improvements but there were no differences between groups, while a relatively large decrease in pruritus scores was found in the thermal therapy group (P < 0·001) as compared with the non-thermal therapy group. Serum calcium level decreased statistically significantly in the thermal therapy group and was statistically significantly different from that of the control group.
Conclusion. The lack of effect does not necessarily demonstrate that thermal therapy is not effective or has no therapeutic benefits for uremic pruritus in patients having haemodialysis. Further investigation is warranted, with larger samples and longer intervention.