Arthritis is a very common affliction of the joints. It’s distinguished by joint pain, swelling, inflammation, stiffness and limited range of motion. It’s been found that more than 20% of all Americans, ranging across all age groups, suffer from some form of arthritis. There are actually more than 100 different types of identifiable arthritis. However, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the disintegration of the cartilage in the joints. This allows the bones to rub together which causes pain and inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks itself specifically targeting the joints. This results in inflammation, swelling, and pain. Although there is currently no cure for the condition, there are many treatments that can help reduce its onset and severity. The most common treatments include a change of lifestyle, physiotherapy, medication, and surgery. In an effort to reduce dependence on medication and surgery, many health professionals have asked, “Can hydrotherapy help arthritis?” In this article, we’ll go over this type of treatment and some of the benefits it can bring forth.
Hydrotherapy is a type of physiotherapy that calls for the performance of exercises in warm water. The exercises are meant to increase flexibility, build strength, heal injury and reduce pain. Hydrotherapy differs from spa therapy in that it incorporates exercise whereas spa therapy only requires relaxation in warm waters. Hydrotherapy is also differentiated from water aerobics or aquatic fitness regimes by the fact that it concentrates on pain relief and relaxation as opposed to pure exertion. Hydrotherapy necessarily takes place in waist to neck deep water but may occur in locations such as a hospital or physiotherapy clinic or a public, commercial or private swim spa or hot tub.
Hydrotherapy for Arthritis
Hydrotherapy has many intrinsic qualities that makes it ideal for the treatment of arthritis. To help organize these qualities we’ve created a list of some of its benefits.
One of the biggest benefits of hydrotherapy is the relief of pain that it brings to sufferers of arthritis. Warm water naturally relieves pain by causing the body to create endorphins. It also increases the blood flow which promotes circulation of oxygen to the parts of the body that are exhibiting pain. And, as any regular hot tub user will tell you, warm water is great for relaxing the mind and the body.
The property of water buoyancy is a great benefit for those who suffer from joint pain and are unable to perform high impact exercises. Water reduces the pressure on the joints and bones and allows those who might be in too much pain to exercise on dry land to perform the same exercises in water with reduced levels of impact.
Resistance and Stability
The property of water resistance creates a force to work against while providing stability and balance. The more force you apply against water, the more it pushes back against you. This allows you to tailor your effort to an ideal level and allows your strength to grow according to your ability. Water resistance can also provide an effective cushion against falling. For those who have issues with balance, weight, mobility or range of motion, exercising in water can be safer than exercising on dry land due to the stability that’s afforded. This allows for larger and more ambitious movements to be performed without the fear of falling.
Heat from the water can allow the muscles, ligaments and tendons to become more flexible. The increased blood flow brings more oxygen to these parts of the body and causes them to become more supple and pliable. With this increased flexibility, exercises can be performed with a lower risk of injury.
To learn more about the healing benefits of hydrotherapy, download a hot tub buyer’s guide.