Hydrotherapy and Aquatic Therapy

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Hydrotherapy is simply water therapy, and it has been used for hundreds of years. Whirlpools, water spas, Roman tubs, common bathtubs, and swimming pools are examples of hydrotherapy. Many people have some form available at their home or apartment.Aquatic ExerciseThe benefits of aquatic therapy, also called hydrotherapy, offers people with back pain a near weightless environment to stretch and exercise.Use and Benefits
In a professional setting, the water temperature and agitation is varied depending on the treatment goal. Water temperature, coupled with agitation or vibration against the skin, can soothe and relax muscles.

Warmer water induces vasodilation: drawing blood into the target tissues. Increased blood flow delivers needed oxygen and nutrients, and removes cell wastes. The warmth decreases muscle spasm, relaxes tense muscles, relieves pain, and can increase range of motion.

Cold-water therapy produces vasoconstriction, which slows circulation, reducing inflammation, muscle spasm, and pain.

Water Exercise
Water is also an excellent base for exercise, providing an anti-stress environment for movement. Gentle water exercises use the water's resistance to build muscle strength and flexibility. Water exercise can benefit people who find weight-bearing exercise difficult (or painful) on dry land.

A Word of Caution
Some medical conditions can be aggravated by hydrotherapy. It is a good idea to seek the advice of a healthcare professional prior to beginning hydrotherapy at home.

Updated on: 01/24/18
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Physiatrists Help Patients Manage Neck and Back Pain
Graeme Keys, PT, Dip MDT, COMT, CMP
This article was reviewed by Graeme Keys, PT, Dip MDT, COMT.
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Physiatrists Help Patients Manage Neck and Back Pain

Physiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation, PM&R. Physiatry involves evaluating and treating spine pain and musculoskeletal disorders using non-surgical treatments, such as medicines, physical therapy and exercise to help the patient achieve maximum functional ability.
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