Attempting physical therapy when you have a severely damaged joint can be difficult. The resistance of each movement can add unnecessary stress to the damaged area and may actually be too much for the level of treatment you can tolerate.
Aquatic therapy is a great alternative to physical therapy, with similar movements and exercises performed in the water instead of on land. Our White Spruce location offers aquatic therapy to help patients who may benefit from the buoyancy of water, especially those with severely damaged or painful joints.
In this page, we will walk through exactly what aquatic therapy is, the benefits, and who should and should not seek this type of treatment. If you have any questions, please reach out to our White Spruce location and schedule a consultation with one of our licensed physical therapists.
What Is Aquatic Therapy?
Aquatic therapy is a series of physical therapy exercises that are performed in a pool. The reason why aquatic therapy is so appealing and recommended to certain patients is that the buoyancy of the pool helps alleviate pressure on the joints, which allows you to target muscle strength without added stress on the damaged joint.
Aquatic therapy is performed at a physical therapy clinic and is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes active/passive stretches, joint mobilization, and other modalities that can help treat orthopedic conditions. Fortunately, physical therapy is a direct access treatment option. This essentially means that you don’t need a referral from a doctor’s office before scheduling with a local PT clinic.
What Are the Benefits of Aquatic Therapy?
The benefits of aquatic therapy are numerous, but the main benefits of this type of treatment plan include:
- Buoyancy — Like we’ve mentioned, the main benefit to aquatic therapy is the buoyancy aspect. The water helps to lift the weight of the body off the joints, so patients can perform more exercises in the pool than they can on land, especially patients with bad knees or arthritic joints.
- Resistance — Water provides resistance during movement. This resistance allows certain exercises to be performed without weights, which allows for muscle strength to be built without the strain of holding weights. This is particularly helpful for people with arthritis in their hands and wrists, because holding weights may add unnecessary strain to these joints.
- Hydrostatic pressure — Hydrostatic pressure is basically pressure in the water that is perpendicular to the body, i.e., it pushes against the body. This helps reduce swelling and also improves posture and alignment, which helps increase strength during exercises.
- Increased circulation — Aquatic therapy pools are often kept on the warmer side, which helps to increase blood flow to the damaged part of the body and promote healing.
When coupled with other physical therapy modalities, aquatic therapy has been shown to help patients meet their overall healing and recovery goals.
Who Should and Shouldn’t Seek Aquatic Therapy
Aquatic therapy is helpful to people who have severe joint conditions that make exercising and movement on land difficult. Such conditions include:
- Knee injuries
- Ankle conditions
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Lumbar disc disease (bulging or herniated disc, degenerative disc, etc.)
- Hip pain
But aquatic therapy is not for everyone. You should not seek aquatic therapy treatment if you:
- Have a heart condition
- Experience bowel/bladder leaks
- Cannot swim
- Have a fever, infection or open wound
If you want to learn more about our aquatic therapy treatment, contact our team today. Our team at Lattimore Physical Therapy is here to help you achieve your recovery goals, whether on land or in the pool.