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Reasons to Have One, What to Expect, Associated Risks & More

5 Reasons Why You Would Need Hydrotherapy

1. Physical recovery

Hydrotherapy is a kind of alternative medicine that touts the benefits of water used externally and internally to make you healthier.[1] The practice has existed for centuries and can be traced all the way back to the ancient Egyptians.

Physical recovery is one of the most common uses of hydrotherapy. If you are an athlete in any capacity, you might have used hydrotherapy in the form of a steam room or cold water immersion to help you recover from intense physical activity. In addition, physical therapists often help those recovering from an injury with certain hydrotherapy practices such as water exercises.

2. Stress relief

Those who are struggling with severe mental and physical stress in their lives can also greatly benefit from hydrotherapy. Being submerged underwater can remove the tension in your limbs, release endorphins, and increase feelings of comfort and happiness.[2]

3. Detoxification

Whether you need to detox from unhealthy foods or from drug or alcohol abuse, saunas and steam rooms can help your body flush out the toxins through the act of sweating. Detox is one of the top reasons people seek out hydrotherapy as an alternative treatment method. However, in some instances, including colon cleansing hydrotherapy, there could be a host of side effects and risks, so it’s important to talk to your doctors before starting hydrotherapy.[3]

4. Arthritis

Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can be treated with hydrotherapy.[1] For rheumatoid arthritis, the practice can help minimize inflammation, increase antioxidant levels, and intensify the effects of regular medication, while for osteoarthritis, studies have shown that aquatic exercises can be helpful in improving pain, mobility, and function.[4] Those with different types of arthritis use different kinds of hydrotherapy to treat their condition naturally.

5. Cold and cough

Sometimes, hydrotherapy can be used for a condition as minor as coughs and chest colds. Sitting in a room filled with steam and slowly breathing in and out can be extremely helpful for treating the symptoms and may even minimize the length of the illness.[1]

6. Chronic pain

Chronic pain conditions are sometimes treated with hydrotherapy in addition to traditional medicine. For example, fibromyalgia is sometimes treated with balneotherapy, which is the practice of bathing in mineral springs to heal the pain.[5]

Understanding Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is considered a type of holistic or alternative medicine. It can be provided in a treatment center like a rehab facility or a hospital as well as a spa or another type of nonmedical health facility.[1] One can also practice hydrotherapy at home. The practice has gone through many changes over the centuries, but several options are still available for the treatment of both mental and physical health conditions, including:

  • Watsu
  • Saunas
  • Sitz baths
  • Steam rooms
  • Cold or hot compresses
  • Contrast hydrotherapy
  • Pool exercise
  • Hot fomentation
  • Wraps
  • Warming socks
  • Warm water or mineral soaks
  • Balneotherapy

Certain treatments are recommended for certain conditions, some minor and some severe. For example, a doctor or alternative medicine practitioner might recommend a sitz bath for problems with menstruation, PMS, or hemorrhoids, while warm water or mineral bath might be recommended for aching muscles or pain. Cool compresses can bring down swelling and warm compresses can increase blood flow in the body.

Hydrotherapy covers a wide range of treatments for a number of issues. If you are interested in this option, you should discuss the subject with your doctor.

Risks of Getting Hydrotherapy

1. Poor candidates

Some individuals are not good candidates for hydrotherapy. For example, those who are dealing with inflammation should avoid warm water soaks and compresses.[1] Those who are pregnant, have a fever, or are suffering from cancer, kidney disease, or cardiovascular disease should also avoid treatment with hydrotherapy.

2. Cleanses

Cleanses can seem like a healthy idea, but in many cases, they cause more problems than they solve. Colon cleanses, for example, can cause a risk of dehydration as well as liver toxicity, nausea, and others.[3]

3. Temperature changes

One should make sure treatment with hydrotherapy is monitored correctly, especially during full-body immersion experiences. Saunas or steam rooms can become extremely hot, as can warm baths, and this can sometimes lead to dehydration if the individual sweats too much. Similar problems can arise from cold water hydrotherapy if the temperatures are not managed correctly.

What to Expect with Hydrotherapy

1. Hydrotherapy treatment

There are many different types of hydrotherapy, so don’t expect to have the same experience as someone else you know. Some hydrotherapy packages are provided by spas that offer the use of pools for rehabilitation or relaxation.[6] In other cases, hydrotherapy may be much more controlled and you could be working with a physical therapist or another person who is trained to help you through the process.

After the treatment, you may feel tired or you may feel enlivened. Depending on the treatment and your reaction to it, you may need rest afterward. Also, it is almost always a good idea to drink plenty of water after your treatment in order to keep your body hydrated.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Your Hydrotherapy

  • What should I expect from my hydrotherapy treatment?
  • Will someone be there to walk me through the treatment or to help me?
  • Is there anything I should know about the risks of my specific treatment?
  • Are there payment options available to me for hydrotherapy?

Hydrotherapy May Also be Known as:

  • Water therapy
  • Hydropathy



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