Research has shown that if you suffer from fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis pain in the knee or hip, then aerobic and stretching exercises in warm water can help to relieve it.
There are three categories of exercises called hydrotherapy: hot water, cold water, and alternating hot and cold water. Hot water is known for stimulating the immune system and is also good for increasing your circulation. Cold water constricts blood vessels and is effective in reducing inflammation.
Using both hot and cold has been found to improve circulation. It was found that water heated between 32 degrees C to 36 degrees C slightly reduces osteoarthritis pain over three months. They say that hydrotherapy changes lives and has been proven to be a highly effective form of natural therapy which works by stimulating the endorphins, which in turn helps you to control pain and alleviate tension.
The hydro bath works by releasing millions of large bubbles, which relax your muscular tension and helps reduce swollen joints, giving you increased mobility and more importantly lessens your pain.
Fibromyalgia Symptoms says that Hydrotherapy is actually one of the oldest types of health treatments in existence today. It still occupies a major place in medicinal treatment throughout China, Japan, and Europe. Believed to have healing properties, water has long been used to treat various illnesses, ranging from gout to depression. The use of thermal spas and baths was introduced by the Romans in the fourth century BC and since then has risen in popularity. Various forms of hydrotherapy are now used in countries all over the world.
Hydrotherapy appears to be particularly effective for those suffering from fibromyalgia. In particular, hydrotherapy techniques help to:
- reduce muscle pain
- improve sleep disorders
- increase mobility
- reduce stiffness
A variety of studies involving fibromyalgia patients and hydrotherapy have been performed. In one study, fibromyalgia patients were given therapeutic whirlpool baths twice a week for six weeks. Upon conclusion of the study, the patients involved had better muscle and joint function, reduced pain symptoms, and improved sleep quality.
Hydroptherapy UK says the only side effects are as with any water-based activity, caution should be exercised to remain safe from drowning. Almost all hydrotherapy is carried out in pools more shallow than the height of the person using it.
Patients should drink sufficient amounts of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.
The buoyancy of the water can make some activity seem easier, while it is actually working muscles very hard. Patients should get used to how their body feels after a session in order to gauge appropriate levels of activity (i.e. not “overdoing” it).
The warmth of the water may make a person feel dizzy.
If the hydrotherapy is taking place in a chlorinated pool, the patient should shower immediately after to avoid irritation to their skin.
Arthritis Research has an article on how you can access hydrotherapy through the NHS. They say that hydrotherapy sessions are available on the NHS, and most hospitals have access to hydrotherapy pools. Any member of the healthcare team should be able to refer you to an NHS physiotherapist if they think you might benefit from hydrotherapy. In some parts of the UK you can also refer yourself to a physiotherapist, who’ll assess whether hydrotherapy would be suitable for you. Check with your GP or call your local rheumatology department to find out if an NHS physiotherapist in your area will accept self-referrals.
They also say that scientific studies have shown that hydrotherapy can improve strength and general fitness in people with various types of arthritis. The exercises can be tailored to your individual needs, so you can start slowly and gradually build up your strength and flexibility.
The extra support that the water provides may make you feel like you can do more exercise than normal, so be careful not to overdo it. The exercise and the warmth of the water may make you feel tired after treatment, but this is quite normal. In general, hydrotherapy is one of the safest treatments for arthritis and back pain.