Hydrotherapy is a type of therapy that uses water to treat pain and/or illness, and hydrotherapy has been used as a medical treatment for thousands of years. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, often prescribed spring water baths to his patients. Hydrotherapy was also used in ancient Japan. The ancient Japanese people bathed in the local onsen, or hot springs, which were believed to have special healing powers due to their mineral content. Today, water therapies are still used to treat a range of ailments, there are many health benefits of water. The effectiveness of this therapy has been supported by numerous medical studies.
What Treatments Are Included in Hydrotherapy?
Hydrotherapy is a very general term that can refer to several different treatments, including steam baths, foot baths, saunas, sitz baths, whirlpools, mineral baths, underwater massage, and hot Roman baths. It may also refer to the act of alternating hot and cold compresses on an area to improve circulation. Warm compresses or wraps may also be applied to the feet or chest to relieve certain conditions.
What Conditions Are Treated with Hydrotherapy?
Many different conditions are treated using hydrotherapy. Warm mineral baths can help relieve muscle and joint pain. Sitz baths, which require patients to alternate between cold and warm tubs, help relieve menstrual pain, hemorrhoids, and polyps. Different types of hydrotherapy are also used to treat colds, infections, headaches, congestion, bronchitis, sinus infections, and some skin conditions. The Arthritis Foundation also recommends hydrotherapy to help treat the inflammation and soreness caused by osteoarthritis.
Where Does One Go to Receive Treatment?
A professional who specializes in water therapy is known as a hydrotherapist. Water therapy is commonly offered in health spas and wellness centers. Patients may even use these treatments at home to independently manage pain or illness. Some rehabilitation center also employ hydrotherapists that offer water therapy treatments.
Has Hydrotherapy Been Proven to Work?
Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of hydrotherapy. In 2008, the Australian Institute of Sport studied the effect of hydrotherapy on muscle soreness. They concluded that cold water immersion and contrast water therapy, which involves the use of cold and hot water, were both effective in improving muscle soreness due to exercise. In 2009, a study held at the University of Duisburg-Essen, by the Department of Internal Medicine V, tested the effectiveness of hydrotherapy as a treatment for fibromyalgia. The study concluded that hydrotherapy was moderately effective in helping fibromyaglia patients control pain. These studies may just prove what ancient healers once believed to be true: that hydrotherapy is an effective way to treat many different medical conditions.