Hydrotherapy refers to the medicinal use of water, including hot tubs, cold water treatments, ice packs, vapors, gsg_saunas, mineral springs, hot springs, sitz baths, wet towel applications, water exercises, and water massage. Hydrotherapy immersion waters available at spas may be rich in specific minerals or enhanced with aromatic oils or herbs. Many different forms of hydrotherapy are available. It’s important to use the correct type of treatment since extremes of heat or cold and could be dangerous for some people.
Benefits of Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy increases blood circulation, including circulation of the immune system’s white blood cells. Hydrotherapy also increases the body’s production of endogenous opioid peptides, particularly endorphins. Enhanced circulation and increased endorphins strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, heal injured tissue, improve well-being and energize the body.
Hydrotherapy also supplies fresh nutrients and oxygen to injured tissue and helps with the removal of waste products. In injuries alternate applications of heat and cold accelerate healing by improving blood vessel integrity and muscle tone. Heat causes peripheral (surface) blood vessels to dilate or expand. Cold causes peripheral blood vessels to constrict and drives blood back to the organs.
Conditions That Benefit From Hydrotherapy
Hydrotherapy aids the rehabilitation process in injuries and stroke, and it improves respiratory infections. Hydrotherapy is also known to reduce pain and inflammation in arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions. In addition, hydrotherapy reduces the effects of stress by increasing endorphin production, improves sleep, and prevents headaches.
Hot tub hydrotherapy is also reported to improve blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes, lower blood pressure, and reduce symptoms in patients with multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, scoliosis, carpal tunnel syndrome and bursitis. Recent studies also show that cold water treatments, including swimming, are potentially effective treatments for depression and also offer pain relief. In patients undergoing strength training, hydrotherapy has also been found to improve recovery times.
Upper Respiratory Infections, Pneumonia
In patients with upper respiratory infections, asthma, colds, influenza, bronchitis, and pneumonia, vaporizers, hot tub sessions, and gsg_saunas help to open airways and help white blood cells circulate to the affected areas, promoting healing and increasing respiration.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from hot tubs, especially when used in conjunction with massage or water exercises. Hydrotherapy reduces joint pain by reducing inflammation and increasing blood flow. According to researchers at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health, a small number of controlled studies have been done on hydrotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis, most based on sea-bath treatments given in Israel’s Dead Sea area. Most of these studies reported beneficial results.
However, there have been quality issues noted with these studies, and it is not considered proven that the hydrotherapy itself provided the benefits for RA claimed in these studies. Larger and better studies are needed to answer this question. Study authors have noted that there could be other reasons for benefits, such as traveling to a spa, being removed from one’s daily routine, reducing stress, and so much more.
Hydrotherapy For Arthritis
If you are one of the many millions of people that suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or other rheumatic diseases, you will no doubt be aware of the pain and misery that it can cause you. Hydrotherapy is probably one of the oldest forms of natural medical treatment and involves the use of water for relieving joint pain as well as other diseases.
Throughout the centuries, people have sought this special relief, even soaking in mineral laden hot springs which are seen as the forerunner to the modern hot tub. Doctors have long recommended hydrotherapy as a healthy way of relieving aches and pains in the joints.
Warm Hydrotherapy For Releif
Warm hydrotherapy has proven to be very effective for sufferers of arthritis and other joint related illnesses, with regular sessions in a spa or hot tub shown to be great natural pain relievers.
An ideal way to start your day is a soak in the hot tub with some gentle water exercise which provides a safe and pleasant way to warm up the joints and increase freedom of movement. It will also loosen up tight muscles from the previous nights rest. A maximum of twenty to thirty minutes in the spa is normally sufficient to get the needed exercises in and loosen up the joints.
When the body cools down towards the end of the day and stiffness and pain starts to return, another half hour session in the hot tub will work wonders. However, instead of exercising, use the jets in the hot tub to passively massage the muscles and relax the body and mind.
Hydro massage uses the jets of the hot tub or spa to passively buffet aching muscles. Even though the origin of the pain is within the joints themselves, it is the muscles attached to those bones and moving the joints that can often set up in spasm. Although not as pronounced as the cramp that some people experience at night in the calf muscle, it is nevertheless the stiff spasm that may cause significant pain to be felt in the joint.
The combined heat and the gentle massage action of the jets in the short session in the hot tub have the effect of relaxing the spasming, stiff muscles. As those muscles relax, pressure on the joint is reduced thus relieving the pain within the elbow, hip, knee or other joints. Massage therapists generally agree that up to 90% of most pain, although originating elsewhere, is actually perceived in the response of the muscle.
Once the muscles are relieved of spasm, gentle water exercise while still in the hot tub can prove very beneficial. The buoyancy of the water itself provides a low impact arena in which to exercise. Blood vessels will expand causing an increase in circulation, which in turn aids in the removal of toxins that have built up causing soreness in the muscles.
This combination of heat, gentle massage and low impact exercises in the hot tub allows the arthritis sufferer to move more freely and with less pain. It will improve the remainder of the day or bring ease for a good nights sleep.
Check With Your Doctor
If you are considering hot tub therapy or starting an exercise program, it is advisable to check with your doctor in the first instance. Depending on your situation, your doctor may recommend certain exercises or a regular regimen that may differ from others based on your individual needs. The doctor may also recommend that your daily hot tub sessions be a certain temperature and duration to ensure maximum relief.
- Hydrotherapy, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
- Shevchuk NA, Adapted Cold Shower as a Potential Treatment for Depression, Med Hypotheses, Nov 9, 2007.