4 Advantages of Warm Water Therapy for Osteoarthritis
Although osteoarthritis oftentimes causes pain and frustration, sometimes the additional implications compound the problem. For instance, individuals find activity difficult and painful so they slowly reduce their amount of exercise and daily activities. This in turn, can lead to weight gain and increased pain when doing even less strenuous activities. Although this is common for those suffering from osteoarthritis, there are ways to overcome this cycle. Because exercise is one of the key ways to keep osteoarthritis at bay, it is important to find ways to maintain an exercise program. Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints which helps to increase range of motion and relieve pain. If traditional land therapy or exercise is painful for patients, it is important to find alternative methods to keep them active and gaining strength. Warm water therapy can provide a safe exercise alternative for this population.
If you’ve ever called into HydroWorx, you’ve likely spoken to our enthusiastic Creator of First Impressions, Amy. Amy doesn’t only greet everyone with a smile, whether on the phone or in person, but she also has osteoarthritis and uses the HydroWorx pool:
I like running in the HydroWorx pool because I can actually run. On a regular treadmill, I can only walk around 3mph for about 20 min and I usually hurt afterward. On the underwater treadmill, I can run around 6mph for about 40 minutes. I don’t hurt afterward and even the next morning I am not sore. My osteoarthritis also seems to settle down when I’m in the pool. There are days when it’s cold outside that I can’t walk comfortably. On those days, I can get in the pool just to use the massage hose to relieve my pain and feel much better.
Here are 4 reasons warm water therapy is a great alternative for osteaorthritis patients:
- Reduced pain – The warmth of the water combined with the buoyancy and hydrostatic pressure work together to create an environment that reduces pain quickly to encourage movement.
- Increased mobility and range of motion – By lessening one’s body weight, osteoarthritis patients are able to move their joints more freely. With reduced pain, they are also able to move with a great range of motion.
- Increased strength building opportunities – the viscosity (or drag) of the water provides a natural resistance training to any movement. Something as simple as walking on an underwater treadmill provides more strength building opportunity than just walking on land. Resistance can then be added using resistance jets or water dumbbells to increase the strength building opportunity.
- Maintain or improve cardiovascular conditioning – By keeping up with fitness in a pain-reduced environment, a patient’s cardiovascular system can be challenged and strengthened.
When treating an osteoarthritis patient who is in need of physical therapy or just physical activity, consider warm water therapy as a viable option that has a typically better compliance rate that land therapy.