Hydrotherapy is the process of using water in the treatment of various medical conditions such as arthritis and numerous rheumatoid complaints. It is completely different from swimming. Hydrotherapy consists of a series of exercises carried out in a pool whose water is typically between 33-35ºC in temperature, warmer than an average swimming pool.
The treatment usually takes place in the physiotherapy department of a hospital. A physiotherapist or their assistant will be on hand to lead the patient through the various exercises. The process is flexible and the exercises can be tailored to meet the individual needs of the patient. It is much less strenuous than aquarobics and is geared more towards slow and controlled movements. It is normal for the pool to be shared during a session of hydrotherapy and the exercises will be tailored to meet each participant’s needs.
People with similar complaints can access group sessions. Hydrotherapy is an effective procedure regardless of how many joints require the treatment. Among the ailments that can be treated this way are repercussions from joint replacement surgery, back pain, psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis.
However, those with other forms of arthritis are encouraged to try the therapy too. Some people query whether hydrotherapy is in any way similar to spa therapy. Spa therapy hypothesizes that the mineral content in the water it uses possesses unique health-giving qualities. Mineral water is regularly used in hydrotherapy sessions throughout Europe. Despite the fact that some evidence exists which suggests that mineral content may make a difference, it is generally believed that hydrotherapy is beneficial regardless of the kind of water being used. Here’s how hydrotherapy can help you.
First, the warm water relaxes the muscles and soothes joint pains, thus enabling you to exercise. This is achieved through the release of endorphins, which act as a natural pain relief and aid in the reduction of muscle soreness. Your weight is supported by the water, which aids both in relieving pain and strengthening the movement in the joints.
The water also provides resistance to joint movement. Muscle strength can be enhanced when both the legs and the arms are pushed against the water. The warm water raises the body’s temperature, which in turn increases the flow of blood around the circulatory system which aids in alleviating pain. Injured tissues and damaged muscles and joints will also be improved by the higher level of circulation.
It is important not to overdo these exercises. The extra support provided by the water can lead you to believe you are capable of doing more exercise than you really are, so care is advised during hydrotherapy. The warm water and the exercises can also induce tiredness after the therapy, although this is perfectly normal and should not give you cause for concern. Hydrotherapy is among the safest and most effective ways of treating arthritis and back pain. There are other benefits of using hydrotherapy too.
For example, it helps to boost the immune system by increasing blood flow and the circulation of white blood cells. When these pass through the body, they enable an immune system fluid known as lymph to move more efficiently, thus strengthening the immune system and providing a stronger line of defence against colds and other illnesses.
Furthermore, hydrotherapy is an excellent means of stress relief. When we are stressed, our blood pressure increases and hydrotherapy can aid in relieving this. It can also reduce how much the body reacts to stress and anxiety. One study found that people suffering from fibromyalgia, which causes both physical and mental pain, reported that hydrotherapy was useful in combatting their anxiety and depression.
Additionally, hydrotherapy is beneficial in improving your general mobility and balance. Another benefit of using hydrotherapy is that it does not necessarily end once you have completed your allotted numbers of sessions. Once your course is finished, you can continue to perform your set of allocated exercises in your local swimming pool at your convenience.
Access to hydrotherapy is relatively straightforward. It is provided on the NHS and most hospitals will house hydrotherapy pools, although you may need to travel to another hospital if your local one does not offer a pool. Anyone from your local healthcare team will be able to refer you to a physiotherapist to determine whether hydrotherapy will be a suitable treatment for you.
An initial assessment will take between thirty and forty-five minutes to complete and will involve a conversation about your general health and arthritis, as well as your individual needs. If hydrotherapy is deemed to be appropriate, your treatment will generally consist of five or six sessions lasting around thirty minutes each, during which various buoyancy aids such as floats may be used.
Being able to swim is not a precondition for benefitting from hydrotherapy as the waters used are of varying depths; some are waist-high while others are chest-high. There are certain conditions and situations which may prohibit you from having hydrotherapy.
For example, if you have a virus or an upset stomach, a physical wound or an infection of the skin, high or low blood pressure or angina or heart problems, among others, hydrotherapy may be deemed unsuitable for you. It is important that you declare such things to your physiotherapist during your initial assessment. Their decision will be based on the severity of the condition, what medication – if any – you take for it and how much of your body it affects. Ultimately, hydrotherapy is an efficient means of treating an array of arthritis and other related ailments. It can be a fun and invigorating experience and you can continue with it in your own time once your sessions have ended. If you feel you would benefit from this treatment, ask your GP or a nurse for a referral.
This article is for educational and informational purposes only and must not be used or taken as a substitute in any form for any medical advice, medication you are currently taking or any alternative treatments without the prior advice, guidance and consent from your medical doctor. Please speak with your doctor fist before making any changes to your diet or medicine as a result of reading any information laid out on this website or in this or any other articles.
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