Aquatic therapy is a conservative, non-surgical form of physical therapy used to treat back pain. Aquatic therapy incorporates warm water, exercise and whirlpools to relieve pain and pressure on joints and muscles. Water therapy can also help improve range of motion and muscle suppleness. Aquatic therapy is gaining acceptance in the medical community as an accepted treatment for chronic pain patients.
People who have sciatica, pinched nerves, foraminal stenosis or other painful spinal injuries may have difficulty moving due to their condition. In cases like these, aquatic therapy may be prescribed. Since the body’s natural buoyancy in water reduces the stresses of gravity on the spine, aquatic therapy provides a less painful experience than other forms of physical therapy.
What is aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy combines exercise and hydrotherapy in a personalized program that’s tailored to the individual patient. The goals of aquatic therapy are to:
- Strengthen muscles (especially core muscles) by using the viscosity of the water as a natural form of resistance.
- Regain mobility by having the patient perform a range of motion that is not possible during land-based activity.
- Decrease swelling of joints and improve circulation, which are both effects brought on by the hydrostatic pressure of the water.
- Ease muscle pain via immersion in warm water.
Some spinal conditions, such as herniated discs, arthritis of the spine, degenerative disc disease and spondylolisthesis, respond well to exercise – yet the pain from these conditions usually severely limits the patient’s movement. Aquatic therapy is a non-surgical, zero-impact, less painful method for promoting healing of these injuries through physical therapy.
Who should avoid aquatic therapy?
Aquatic therapy is not for everyone. People with conditions that may be exacerbated by warm water immersion – such as fever, infection or incontinence – should not participate in aquatic therapy. As with any new therapy or exercise program, be sure to check with your physician before you begin, to make sure the program is right for you. Your physician can refer you to a reputable practitioner in your area.
If conservative therapy programs like aquatic therapy do not relieve your back pain, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive procedures may help you recover your health without the need for highly invasive traditional open spinal surgery.