Hydrotherapy is using water, internally and externally, to maintain health and to treat and prevent disease. According to proponents, there is no medicine on the market that can rival the beneficial physiological effects of water. Therapeutic qualities include helping with sleep, controlling body temperature, providing derivative pain relief, and acting as an anti-convulsant. Cold water can reduce a person’s pulse, kill pain, and reduce temperature in minutes. Hot water can ease joint and muscle pain and increase blood flow. Hydrotherapy has been used to reduce acute and chronic pain for conditions like back and neck pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other joint pain. Water therapy can be conducted in:
- Swimming pools, where the buoyancy supports the body and negates some of the effects of gravity. This lets pain patients perform low-impact exercises. At the same time, the water provides resistance and help in building strength and endurance.
- A “Hubbard tank” in which a person immerses his or her entire body. The water inside the tank can be raised or lowered to aid in the treatment. Convection heating can facilitate exercises to treat pain and increase blood circulation. Electrolytes can be added to the water in the Hubbard tank, which is especially beneficial for burn patients.
- Sitz baths, where the patient sits in a small tub with water covering his or her hips. These baths are used to treat lumbar pain, pelvic pain, prostatitis, and testicular pain.
- Whirlpool therapy, which uses heated, churning water that can ease aching muscles, help chronic spinal conditions, and aid in relaxation.
- Saunas and steam baths, which can relieve stress and relax muscle strains.
- Hot or cold packs that can help reduce back, facial, and limb pain.
This blog post is an excerpt from A Day Without Pain (Revised) by Mel Pohl, MD, FASAM; Published by Central Recovery Press (CRP).