By Dr Babina NM
A particularly effective treatment for illnesses such as arthritis and its complications is hydrotherapy or water therapy.
In contrast to aqua aerobics, which typically entails physically demanding activities in the water, hydrotherapy exercise incorporates specialised movements that are performed in a heated swimming pool.
The water is kept at a temperature of 32ºC to 36ºC.
Hydrotherapy, also known as aquatic therapy, can be beneficial for those with joint discomfort.
It is used particularly for those who have undergone joint replacement surgery, as well as for those with back pain, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and osteoarthritis.
What is hydrotherapy exercise and how to do It?
Hydrotherapy is done in waist-high to shoulder-high water heated to a comfortable temperature.
Exercises for hydrotherapy are usually carried out with the help of a physical therapist.
Apart from reducing the symptoms of joint pain and arthritis, hydrotherapy is also used to:
- Promote relaxation.
- Improve blood circulation.
- Ease anxiety, depression and pain.
- Treat musculoskeletal problems.
Role of hydrotherapy in people with joint pain or arthritis
If you’ve tried to walk underwater you’ll know that it is more difficult than walking on dry land. This is because of water’s resistance, which contributes to the development of muscle strength.
However, since there is less gravity underwater, patients can use their muscles more actively and feel more comfortable. Muscles that are generally not used during land therapy are activated by the therapy.
Regular exercise is crucial for arthritis sufferers, research has found.
Daily physical activity can enhance joint functionality, lessen symptoms like fatigue, reduce hospitalisation risk, and lower the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease that are linked to inflammatory arthritis, according to a review written by the journal “Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology”.
Despite the fact that land treatment is crucial for treating arthritic symptoms and joint pain, most patients report that these exercises are painful and they don't like doing them. They experience less discomfort when doing hydrotherapy exercises.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis who had hydrotherapy experienced less joint soreness and pain, according to a study published in the journal “Musculoskeletal Care”. It also improved their attitude and they enjoyed the workout.
Benefits of hydrotherapy
- It can be an effective therapy to treat chronic pain.
- The therapy helps to loosen tight, tense muscles while promoting relaxation. It also enhances digestion and the metabolic rate.
- Water provides resistance, which helps to build muscle strength.
- Hydrotherapy also increases cardio-respiratory fitness, which is essential for heart health.
- Studies have also shown that specific inflammatory markers can decrease with hydrotherapy.
- It stimulates blood circulation.
Do not attempt hydrotherapy on your own – get assistance from a physical therapist.