What Is Hydrotherapy And How Does It Work?
Meaning of hydrotherapy
The treatment of diseases by using water is known as hydrotherapy. Hydrotherapy is also known as water therapy or Aqua therapy. Hot water is used in hydrotherapy, just like in spas or hot tubs during hydrothermal therapy.
Hydrotherapy’s aim is to get rid of all the toxins that cause inflammation or joint pain in our body as well as manipulating and relaxing the muscles. It can be used for curing many diseases, which also include the management of long duration conditions like the osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
For thousands of years hydrotherapy has been known for its beneficial impact. Particularly in Europe, hydrotherapy is very common and there are hundreds of health facilities that provide spas for curing diseases with the help of water. During the eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries, spas in Europe were built with splendid surroundings having views of mountains and lakes.
A number of medical practitioners were always present in the facilities to keep an eye on the whole process. Since then, the treatment of diseases through water in spas has evolved to a great extent and it is far better with advancements in modern technology than ever before.
Many common ailments can be treated using water and such treatments are relatively cheap, safe and simple. Water is necessary for life; we drink it every day; but hydrotherapy has shown that it is not just for drinking and cleaning purposes. Hot water is known for its soothing benefits and when you get into a hot water tub after a long day at work, you would definitely feel relaxed.
Hydrotherapy At Work
The working of hydrotherapy is quite simple; hydrotherapy is helpful in curing diseases because of its mechanical and thermal effects. Hydrotherapy affects the skin, the skin then carries impulses deep into the body.
It stimulates the immune system, lessens the pain sensitivity, enhances production of hormones and it improves the blood flow.
Hydrotherapy has also been proven to treat, diabetes, balance disorders, muscle weakness and pain, diseases related to blood circulation, arthritis, cramps, soft tissue injuries, back-pain, premenstrual syndrome and muscular-skeletal injuries.
Hydrotherapy is very helpful in solving joints related issues, 14 patients of ankylosing spondylitis were made a part of a 2-week study. Their disease was treated using hot water hydrotherapy baths. After two week sessions, physicians checked them and there were clear recorded improvements.
These patients reduced the intake of analgesics pain killers. In the first week of the treatment, improvements were clear, even after a period of three months more improvements could easily be seen.
How hydrotherapy is beneficial for lower back pain
These days people all around the world are experiencing lower back problems, in the US doctors are visited by lower back patients as the third most common issue after cases of flu and colds. These include millions of both men and women.
In the year 1995 the British Journal of Rheumatology published a study which provided evidence that lower back pain can be cured using hot tub or whirlpool therapy. The results of these therapies were fantastic.
A study conducted by the University of Minnesota consisted of forty people; they were given the choice of a still bath and a whirlpool bath. Unsurprisingly eighty five percent of those people chose to take the whirlpool bath. Both of these baths are thought to give mental peace, but only the whirlpool bath was able to reduce the stress levels and reported far greater beneficial effects than the standard bath.
Later in France a study was published in the Journal of Rheumatology that confirmed the effects of whirlpool baths. The participants who were given the spa therapy for about 3 weeks showed better health status than those who were only treated with medication. People who were given the spa treatment had less pain intensity, pain duration and they also showed to have greater improved flexible backs. The people who were given the spa treatment reduced the use of analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs by an impressive level. Information regarding this research was also published in Arthritis Today in the month of April in 1996.
Hydrotherapy is useful for the treatment of several diseases that include spinal diseases, lung diseases, multiple sclerosis, bronchial asthma, weak back muscles and back pain. The hydrotherapy should not be tried on people with neurasthenia.
How Hydrotherapy Treats Arthritis
Our body joints sometimes stiffen and swell as we get older. Out of 6 people, one has some type of arthritis.
Heat is recommended to many people for the treatment of arthritis. In order to equally distribute heat in the body, hydrotherapy is the best method. When the body is submerged into water the person feels weightless due to the buoyancy of water. The body weight is reduced from 85 to 90 percent when in water. People who are having sore joints are advised by the doctors to soak their affected joints in hot water before beginning the day.
For osteoarthritis patients dry heat is not good enough, they need a hot and moist treatment and hydrotherapy is the way to do it. Temperature near to eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit is ideal for hydrotherapy.
For the treatment of feet and hands, the alternating cold and hot baths can be beneficial. This method stimulates the flow of blood by enlarging the blood vessels; it is beneficial for aching feet and for the cure of joints affected by arthritis. When heat is applied the muscles are eased and the person feels very relaxed.
Treatment of insomnia through hydrotherapy
Sleep disorders are very common in the United States; many people don’t get enough sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are one hundred and thirty-two million people across the US who face some kind sleep-related issues. Getting less sleep than required can make us short tempered, sad and depressed. Sleeplessness badly affects the daily routine of a person.
A report published in the Pool and Spa Magazine in July 1998 claimed that sleep was induced in about one thousand adults using hydrotherapy. In a consumer reports survey, it was found that the people having mild sleep disorders can benefit from warm baths, this is one of the best methods to get a good sleep.
Drawing the blood back to the body away, from the head will definitely help in a condition of sleeplessness. A common cause of insomnia in many people is the extra blood inside the head. Hot foot baths are helpful in drawing the blood to the body from the head, this helps in going to sleep.
Dropped body temperature eases our body and helps in getting a deeper and a better sleep. If a person goes into a hot water tub at a temperature of about 104 degrees Fahrenheit before one or two hours of bedtime, it will decrease the body’s internal temperature and help in getting better sleep. If the hot bath is taken too close to bedtime then it might become harder to fall asleep because of the elevated temperature of the body. The director of Sleep Disorders Service and Research Center Mr. Rosalind Cartright said that soaking your body in hot water before going to sleep can make you feel more rested when you wake up in the morning.
Ravaged nerves can be repaired using a hot tub bath. Getting into a hot tub before sleep can give you better sleep, and it can also prove to be a good substitute for the days when you don’t exercise.
Benefits of hydrotherapy for diabetics
In September 1999, New England Journal of Medicine said that hydrotherapy together with exercises can prove to be helpful against diabetes.
Patients with level two diabetes were part of the study and they were given a time of thirty minutes in the spa, they were given this treatment six days a week. The results were great, most of the patients reduced the amount of insulin they took, their plasma glucose levels decreased, and the patients also lost weight which is great for diabetic patients.
People in the study, who were unable to exercise, had enhanced blood circulation to the skeletal muscles.
It is always good to consult your doctor before taking hydrotherapy for diabetes, and know whether he/she recommends it to you.
Hydrotherapy benefits for other parts of the body
Hydrotherapy is not only helpful in treating diseases, but it also has various other benefits. You can get rid of toothaches, migraines, relieving trigeminal neuralgia and for relaxing eyes when using hydrotherapy for the face.
Vertigo can also be treated through hydrotherapy, the tenseness in the neck and shoulder, tinnitus or high blood pressure; all these can be treated through hydrotherapy.
It is also helpful against chest diseases like bronchial asthma, angina pectoris and bronchitis. If there is a risk of angiospasm, then the water temperature should be moderated. As mentioned before, the therapy is also helpful in improving blood flow to important body organs like the lungs, heart and pleura. Hydrotherapy is also useful for the stimulation of cardiac and respiratory activities, varicose veins, and disease of the larynx, nervous excitability, vocal cords and headaches. If a condition of blood stasis in pulmonary circulation exists then this method of therapy should be avoided.
The use of hydrotherapy on the arms is very useful for curing vertigo, rheumatism of arms, catarrh in the nose or throat, cold hands, paralysis, neuralgia and nervous disorders.
Use of hydrotherapy for hips is useful in different medical conditions. These also include the formation of stones in the kidneys. Treating the thighs with hydrotherapy can be helpful in improving blood circulations.
Therapy of legs & feet can help in a condition of sleeplessness, headaches, varicose veins and some others. Vascular damage can be warded off, and it can influence the reproductive organs and the digestive ones.
The above mentioned three methods shouldn’t be used during menstruation or during urinary tract infections, irritable bladder and sciatica.
Risks of hydrotherapy
People who have impaired temperature sensation should not use hydrotherapy as there is a risk of frostbite or of scalding.
Kids and elderly people should avoid long hot baths.
Always consult your doctor before starting hydrotherapy especially if you are heart patient or are pregnant.