The Clinical Benefits of Aquatic Physiotherapy / Hydrotherapy for Arthritis in Adults
The clinical benefits of aquatic physiotherapy/hydrotherapy are that whilst waiting for your joint replacement you can still exercise and strengthen the muscles around the joint without the pain that prevents you from doing so the rest of the time.
One of the great advantages of being in the hydrotherapy pool is that the weight relieving effect of buoyancy coupled with the relaxation induced by the heat of the water that reduces pain on exercise and activity and creates traction at the joints reducing compressive forces on irregular joint and cartilaginous surfaces.
Once you have had your joint replacement aquatic physiotherapy/hydrotherapy will help speed your rehabilitation and recovery as you regain range of movement, strength, unaided walking, fitness and return to full activities of daily living. Rehabilitation takes longer after a knee than hip replacement due the type of joint, surgery and surrounding muscles and soft tissues.
Pre surgery benefits include:
- Once medically cleared and comfortable in the water with a scheduled operation, optimal start is 6 weeks prior to your operation.
- Hydrotherapy will reduce your pain and weakness pre procedure.
- Increase strength and function and speed up your recovery post surgery.
- The benefits of the water help increase blood flow and reduce swelling.
Post surgery benefits include:
- You can start hydrotherapy straight after surgery.
- Clients unable to weight bear may begin rehab earlier due to the pools reduction in compression force on weight bearing joints.
- Pain relief using Watsu®, mobilising, Aquastretch and Aquaepps® techniques, and due to the physiological effects of immersion in heated water promoting circulation and reduced pressure on the joint, increasing mobility and function of the joint and reducing scar tissue formation, promoting a faster recovery.
- Buoyancy acts to support joints and in time provides resistance to movement in the water. Hydrostatic pressure assists in the stabilisation of joints and reducing of swelling (oedema). It enhances circulation which increases the skins condition and accelerates healing and reduction of scar tissue formation.
- The warmth of the water reduces pain and increases relaxation of soft tissues, allowing movements to feel less restricted.
- Increased range of movement of the joint and increased strength of muscles, allowing for early motion with easier mobility and functional movements.
- Earlier gait training and unassisted walking in water speeding up the recovery process.
- Strengthening muscles immediately working against buoyancy, the turbulent drag of the water and progressing to working against the resistance of floats and flippers
- Balance and step work such as standing on one leg or stepping onto and off a sunken step can be performed in water before able to do so on land.