Can Hydrotherapy Help Arthritis?
Arthritis is a very common, painful condition that can affect people of any age. It’s characterized by inflammation of the joints which results in pain that can range from mildly irritating to completely debilitating. Although there are many different types of arthritis, the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the joints is worn away which allows friction to occur between the bones. Rheumatoid arthritis is distinguished by an autoimmune system attack on the joints which results in inflammation, swelling, and pain. Although there’s no cure for arthritis, it can be mitigated with surgery and medication. However, physiotherapy is considered to be the least invasive method of protection against the pain caused by arthritis. For those suffering from extreme cases of arthritis, regular exercise may be too painful to execute. This has caused many health professionals to ask, “Can hydrotherapy help arthritis?” In this article, we’ll look at how hydrotherapy might help arthritis sufferers.
What Is Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy can be considered as a type of physiotherapy performed in warm water, like a hot tub. It’s a therapeutic treatment that incorporates exercises and movements in a warm water pool or hot tub. It’s unlike aquasize or water aerobics in that hydrotherapeutic movements are typically more controlled and focused while being more concerned with relaxation rather than exertion. It also differs from spa therapy in that it requires motion whereas spa therapy is typified by simply soaking in a warm, mineralized spa bath. Hydrotherapy can take place in hospitals or physiotherapy clinics outfitted with a pool, in public or commercial swimming pools or in a hot tub or swim spa in a private residence. As long as warm, waist high water is available, hydrotherapy can take place.
How Can Hydrotherapy Help Arthritis?
There are many different facets of hydrotherapy that make it a useful treatment for those who suffer from arthritis. Here we provide some examples of how hydrotherapy is ideally suited for those who suffer from this condition.
Probably the most noticeable effect of being in warm water is the immediate, albeit temporary, relief of pain. Warm water increases the blood flow which allows oxygen to rush to the areas which exhibit pain. As any hot tub aficionado will tell you, warm water is great for relaxing the body and the mind. This may be partly caused by the rush of pain-relieving endorphins that exposure to warm water can generate.
Exercise done underwater is magnified because of the resistant properties the medium exhibits. The more you push against water, the harder it will push back. This allows the exerciser to regulate their level of exertion to a degree that they feel comfortable with.
Water also creates buoyancy which can be very important when it comes to exercise for sufferers of arthritis. The buoyancy relieves pressure on the joints and creates exercise conditions that reduce impact. For those who have problems exercising on land due to joint pain, performing the same exercises in the water may be the perfect antidote.
Water resistance also creates stability for those who have a poor sense of balance or are prone to falling. The consequences of losing your balance in a pool of water are much less than if it happens on dry land - especially for those who have weight or mobility issues. Exercising in water allows larger movements to be performed without the fear of falling.
Warm water is great for warming up the muscles and allowing them to stretch farther without causing injury. The heat causes the blood to flow faster and farther which gives muscles more flexibility and suppleness. This allows exercises to be performed with lower instances of injury.
To learn more about the health benefits of hydrotherapy and hot tubs, download our free buyer’s guide.